The Good, the Bad, and the Subjective

It's so tempting to believe rejections, to come to the conclusion that the powers that be are right. After all, it's hard to be objective regarding your own work, and there are always nagging little naysayers in the background telling you that "nobody gets published," "agents only represent experienced authors," and "publishers will only look at work by agented authors." That's a lot of negativity free-floating in the atmosphere, and if you're not very careful, it can overwhelm that tiny voice inside you that's saying, "You are really freaking good!"

The next time you're tempted to give over your destiny to the judgment of others, consider this. Newcomer Joanne Rowling's first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by eight publishers before finally received an offer -- and a less than thrilling advance. Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected twenty-four times. And the list goes on and on.

Think it gets easier after you've first broken down the door? I'm sorry to say that for many authors, every sale's a struggle, and lots of times their editors/publishers are dead wrong about their books' potential commercial appeal.

The only lesson I've found (other than what we all know, that writing's a tough business) is that the writer who works outside the box-like walls of the expected is taking a gamble. Win, and the rewards can be beyond your wildest dreams (Right, Ms. Rowling?). But along the way, you can expect to come across any number of readers who don't get it -- and some of them will be in a position to reject you. Or at least your work.

But only you can decide when it's time to stop submitting a piece and move on to the next project. Only you can stamp out that insistent voice by telling the universe, "This isn't freaking good. It's crap." Just don't be too quick about it, or you make be stamping out the spark that's burning (however slowly) toward the bright future you've been working for so long.

So how do you keep motivated in the face of negativity? Have an inspiring story to share about a time you almost gave up before a success? If so, we'd love to hear it.


Suzan Harden said…
Rejection is hard, but I've been fortunate that my professional rejctions have been 'professional.' We won't talk about some of the nasty comments I've gotten in contests or from alleged critique partners.

I'm ready to give up every day until I read Harry Potter to my son every night. If JK Rowling can write such fabulous books while she's on welfare after running from an abusive spouse, I have no f***ing room to complain.
Christie Craig said…

Ugg. I have more than 10,000 of those little suckers. Granted, they are not all from novels, but my freelance pieces. Nevertheless, they still sting, but frankly, I've learned that most the piece that were rejected eventually sold. Rejection isn't always a statement of the work, but of the publisher's needs. I try to remember this.

Christie Craig
Donna said…
I have only one word for you. It's a word that means survival in the face of rejection, or loss of motivation, or pure bad luck, or even all of those combined. The word? Friends.
I thank God every day for the people who keep telling me to go forward and stop looking back. And I try to make sure I give the same advice to someone else every day.
I totally agree, Donna. Having the right friends, especially those who share the dream and understand how tough it is, can make all the difference. What you have to guard against, however, is the friend or relative who simply soothes you by telling you it's okay, you did your best, so you can stop now. They may be trying to insulate you from further rejection, but they really don't get it in the same way another writer does.

Susan, you're right to look at other writers who've faced really daunting situations and succeeded. People have a tendency to use their "real" lives as an excuse, but writing can be an escape from pressures rather than a problem.

And Christie, your talks on rejection are incredibly inspiring. You've really proved that perseverance can pay off in a big way!

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