Wednesday, November 7, 2012

IWSG



It’s time for another IWSG. If you haven’t heard of this yet, head on over to Ninja Captain, Alex and hop on the linky. There are so many people with beautiful words of support and heartbreak. Writing is a daunting business, and sometimes we hide the pain. The whole point of IWSG is to release these fears back out into the world, and maybe some support along the way.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with something. You all know it: rejection. It’s not that I haven’t had my fair share of it before. It’s not like I’m not practiced at receiving it, but it makes me doubt. If I could just get over the doubt of it, I would be on top of the world. The problem with doubt isn’t that it makes me doubt myself (which it does, hence the name), but it makes me feel like a failure. Doubt makes me feel like no matter how many more letters I send out into the world, none of them will matter. And if none of those letters matter, then why do I keep querying?

Every rejection is like a stitch in some shaky, malformed scarf. Every rejection binds the next together and holds all that doubt in place. I’ve been here before, and it was such a relief to just quit. I mean it’s simple, quit and all the rejection goes away. All that doubt? Well, is it such a terrible thing to accept it as truth? I mean, all the advice says that most people will  never ever publish their work. Why did I think I might be the grand exception to that rule? Did I think I was better than anyone else? Did I think I was god’s gift to grammar? Ha! I can barely spell, let alone keep straight waist from waste. Why did I ever think I could do this? I could stop and never have to wait anxiously while a web page loads and to scroll through the list twice to make sure that, no, I really wasn’t picked for the next round of the contest.

I could just tie off the scarf and call it a done deal. But the crazy thing about writing, the part that makes us so crazy with hope is that it takes exactly one yes to unravel a whole scarf of no. One yes, and the whole string of nos don't count. It's like the top of a bag of cat food, one pull and suddenly you aren't a slush pile lurker, you're in the game. One. Just one. It’s crazy to think that some really incredible books got published after so much rejection.

Sure it’s easy to think Of course so and so writer stayed the course, she was sitting on a mega bestseller. I guarantee that the novel of every debut author was hedged in doubt and uncertainty. The first printing of Harry Potter, by the way was, shall we say, modest. They printed 1,000 books. That’s it. 1,000. That’s how much they knew it would be a bestseller, they knew so well that they didn’t print enough to make a dent in any market.

And yet, for every great story about some writer who stayed the course and published their first book to ridiculous success, there’s a hundred stories about how another writer had a book get almost there, and then died because of a committee, or an agent who left the business leaving behind orphaned authors. Or the stories of how a writer spent her whole life cranking out books, going to conferences, and didn’t publish even though she tried for 15 years.

And it’s so much time and work. So much. I’m constantly asking myself, is it worth it? Is it worth the getting up early, the going to bed late, the laptop glued to my fingers. Is it worth it? What if no one ever reads any of it? Have I wasted my life? If I never get published, was this all worth it?

I’m such a glutton for punishment, my answer is still yes. Even knowing the odds are against me, even knowing that I could write another ten novels before any of them get anywhere—hell, they might never get anywhere—but even knowing that, it’s still worth it. I’d be crazy without writing, and I know because I’ve tried. I love to write. I would be less of a person without writing. I write because I couldn’t do anything else. I’m lucky that I love writing, and I’m lucky to have so many wonderful and supportive people around me who write too. Thank you.

24 comments:

  1. *hugs* I don't know how well I'd cope with rejections, but I'm pretty sure if I queried, I'd feel the exact same way as you. It's a long, long road. But that one yes, the one that will unravel all the doubts, is on its way. You are too talented not to reach your dreams, so keep on going!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kyra, that's really sweet. Querying has always been a strange process, sometimes you get those letters and laugh, and sometimes, not so much. Such a roller coaster.

      Delete
  2. Rena, I can't tell you how much I LOVE and "get" this post... Oh goodness...

    Thank you. Thank you for this. It's so nice to know we're not alone. The scarf analogy was so spot on---brilliant. It IS so much work... but we know that we *have* to do this. We have to keep going and keep trying. It is worth it---even in those moments when we swear we'll never write a word again! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Morgan. I'm always trying to tune out the publishing side of writing, but there it is, the elephant in the room. And I love this community, you guys are so incredible.

      Delete
  3. So true! I have the same thoughts, being worried about if my stuff will ever get out there. But I feel better when I think that nothing will ever stop me from writing, because I'm one of those people who has to write... it's who I am, and it would be weird if I didn't write.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That thought really resonates with me. I really found it freeing to know that no amount of rejection would stop me from writing, that the creation was something no one could take away.

      Delete
  4. Someone once said that "every no is getting you one step closer to yes." Let the rejection fuel your determination, let your passion sharpen your skills and when success comes knocking you'll be prepared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like that thought. It makes it sound like all the rejection has a real purpose other than to wear a girl down.

      Delete
  5. Rejections are hard, and if it doesn't bother you at all, I would have suspect you were some kind of android. ;D Obviously you're human, and it's such a human thing to doubt and question ourselves. I do this all the time. I sit down to write and I'm always thinking, Am I good enough? Can I do this? Especially with my life being extremely crazy-busy at the moment with a baby. And yet, like you, I keep trudging away. Writing late at night even when I know I have to get up early to see my kids to school. I battle the lack of sleep, the guilt at having a messy house, the worry that all the hours I spend writing may be all for naught. And I even have an agent. Rejections don't end at the query level. It's forever a part of the process (editor rejections, reader rejections, bad reviews, etc.) But as long as you have passion and you know you can't live without writing, you're good. You're halfway there, and that's better than nothing. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deep down, I know the truth of the whole "rejection doesn't end when you get an agent thing," but it's nice to dream.

      Thank you for this, it is very well said.

      Delete
  6. I think it helps to keep in mind what our goals are. I know for me, I'm not aiming for a major best seller, I just want to be able to hold my book in my hands. Few make the best seller list, many get books published.
    Like you said, everyone who has accomplished that has had tons of rejection, too. There are many who don't make it, but often they are the ones who quit trying or the ones who just keep doing the same thing. Not learning more, working harder, etc. to reach their goals.
    Keep going. Keep working. You are going to make it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, that's a good point to keep my goals in mind. As you say, some goals are more achievable than others. And pretty much, I'm not quitting anytime soon.

      Delete
  7. Burn the scarf!
    So much is timing. Don't quit - you may be closer to your time than you realize.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! burn the scarf! But I put all that pain into it...

      You have a point, of course.

      Thanks for dropping in.

      Delete
  8. It reminds me of Thomas Edison's quote, "I've not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways it doesn't work." Keep it up you'll get there eventually. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that quote. It's such a fantastic truth.

      Delete
  9. The rejections will make the successes all the more sweet! It's tough, but just look at the lists of best-selling authors who had their masterpieces rejected - you are no different to any of them. Stay strong :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whether I can stay strong or not is completely irrelevant. I'm too dumb to know I've lost, so I'll always keep trying (I told that to a friend of mine during a hockey game, and he laughed and said, "That's how I know you're a writer). But seriously, if I'd had any brains at all, I'd have quit my PhD program years ago. I'm a born masochist.

      Delete
  10. the hardest thing about rejections is why? what can i do to improve? is it my story? my query? my voice?

    and thats where we come in. we will read & help you pin point anything you could work on...

    its tough finding that person who loves what youve done, but they are out there! and theres always self pub...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I so very much wish I knew the whys.

      Although, I've gotten some honest feedback, and the why can break your heart. One agent told me that my work sounded good, the voice was nice, but the concept was a real turn off because no one wants an ugly best friend. I almost died. No wonder we live in a beauty obsessed world if the sidekick has to be a perfect ten too. It made me really sad for all the girls who don't think they're beautiful. If my story is being rejected because the best friend isn't beautiful, then where do young women go to identify with not winning the beauty contest?

      So sad.

      Delete
  11. I'm not ready to start querying yet, but I often worry if the rejection gauntlet won't take the joy of writing away from me.
    I would hate to see you stop trying, as I enjoy your writing so much! I truly believe I'll see your name in print someday so I'll leave you with a quote you've probably heard, but one that I hold dear:
    A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. (Richard Bach)

    Hang in there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I thought that querying might take the joy of writing too, but something really amazing happened when I first started querying: I could see what would make a good, eye-catching story to query, and I realized I had no interest in writing that story. None. So more than anything, the querying process has made me realize that I love the writing of it, and I write the stories I have to write. It was very liberating (and, for me at least, it gave me the courage to write a story I'm pretty certain is completely unpublishable).

      Delete
  12. I just dropped in out of the blogo blue, but you seem like a fine writer to me. I, myself, get pretty excited when I get a GOOD rejection. I just got a fabulous rejection from Orion Magazine. They almost loved me. New Yorker gives great rejection ("despite its obvious merit"), and I know they're sincere, because they have sent the exact same rejection three times.

    What I really hate is not hearing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, not hearing can be such a pain. Although, I did recently get a rejection letter for a query I sent out in early May... I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt and pretending that it took so long because I might have been in her maybe file.

      Delete

I love comments! Let me know what's on your mind.