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.