December 18th, 2008

Carrie Now

Writing Fears: Rejection

When I think about what I fear the most as a writer, I end up thinking about what I fear the most as a human being.



What do you mean? Someone might reject me? 
Note: The straw is... Um. I don't know what the straw symbolizes.

Anyway, Alma Fullerton wrote, “One of the hardest obstacles writers have to overcome in their careers is the constant intake of rejection. If you let them, rejections can take a toll on your morale, and, for too many writers, that’s enough to make them quit. Those who succeed in this business don’t ever quit – no matter what.”


We’ve all heard stories about writers who keep manilla folders full of rejections, who paper their walls, who burn them to stay warm on cold Maine winter nights.

I think you should burn that sweater.
What do you mean? This sweater and my love of writing are the only things keeping me warm in the cold horror of the publishing world.
Dude, I reject you on the mere basis that I have to look at that sweater.
This from a man wearing a top hat? 

Note: The sweater is the manuscript.


We don’t want to be those writers who are full of rejection.


We are afraid to be those writers.


There is something good though about being those writers. These are the writers who face their fears, who keep submitting, who keep working on their craft and putting themselves out there, taking that risk, trying to get what they want. It's kind of like the poor guy in BETTER OFF DEAD. He keeps trying and trying to eventually get the girl. He keeps getting rejected. But in the end? Total happiness? Why? Because he faces his fear. He gets out there.

Dude! I've totally got the girl! Note: Getting the girl means getting the publisher.

Submission is not where the rejection fear stops, though. It’s not just about the querying process. It also happens when your book gets published. My next book is coming out in less than a week.

Note: This is my book. The cover is pretty.


How terrified am I?


Oh, man, I am terrified.


It’s a new genre for me. I’m afraid people who liked my other books will HATE this one because it is much more plotty. I’m afraid people who are 80-year-old grandmothers who have never read fantasy will review it on (Oh, wait. That happened). I’m afraid that people will reject it, hate it, and that somehow in my warped brain means that those same people are rejecting and hating me.


This is totally not true.

  We hate your book. Note: The people are the readers.

But it feels like it’s true.

We really REALLY hate your book. And I want my two dollars. Cash. Note: The boy is the reviewer.


Alma Fullerton asked Jane Yolen (who has published more than 200 books and still gets rejected sometimes) if her writing joy is bigger than her rejection angst.


Jane said, “The two are separate. The joy I feel in writing has nothing to do with the hard and awful process of getting published.”


As authors we put our words and heart and ideas onto a page and those words are part of ourselves, part of our psyche, part of our being. Then we let them go and have to watch with our hearts shaking as other people hate our work, ignore it or adore it or possibly make movies about it.


How hard is that?


That’s why I think writers and artists and musicians and actors and directors are made of awesome. Why? Because most of the time our urge to create, our urge to be heard is greater than our fear. How awesome is that?


So, go out there little writers. Face your fears of rejection. Love each other for trying, love each other for doing, be fearless, and remember we are all part of the same Scooby Gang, the kind that loves stories and writes them.

Note: This is us, the writers.

Fullerton, Alma  "Writing Through Rejection." ed. Barbara Kuroff. 2004 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market. Writer's Digest Books. Cincinatti: 2005 (p. 42-47)