Okay, today’s nugget of crap that needs transforming is one near and dear to all of us. Failure. I received another rejection email. Ugh. It’s such a rotten, rotten feeling. A year or so of work to write and revise the novel, only to be met with those one or two sentences that basically say, “sorry, you suck.” But I sent the agent a thank you note, and then dove into my bed, put pillow over my head and swore I would never come back out. I mean you set out knowing this is going to be tough, but does it always have to be so damned debilitating?
But the dog needed a walk and my mother complained about needing food, so my wallowing session was short lived. It’s times like this that I turn to my bookcase and seek inspiration from those who have gone before me (and managed to get themselves agents and got THEIR books published) I keep veering back to Carlos Castaneda and his character Don Juan, the Mexican medicine man he studied with. In the book “Journey to Ixtlan” Don Juan reminds us that:
“When a man decides to do something he must go all the way…but he must take responsibility for what he does, he must know first why he is doing it, and then me must proceed with his actions without having doubts or remorse about them.”
Great. I get it – intellectually. All of the great teachers who say these profound words make my brain happy. But my heart is still heavy. I have no doubts in my ability to write, but dang, it sucks eggs when others doubt you. And there is remorse. When is the work good enough? At some point you take the plunge and send out the query letter. Egad, no wonder so many writers turned to drink. So back to the bookshelf. Ah, here we go, good old Rumi (12th or 13th century, Sufi poet. Google him, it’s worth it) And one of my favorite poems, “Desire and the Importance of Failing.” Ah-ha, my failure is important. That makes me smile. Here are a few stanza’s:
God fixes a passionate desire in you,
And then disappoints you.
God does that a hundred times!
God breaks the wings of one intention
And then gives you another,
Cuts the rope of contriving,
So you’ll remember your dependance.
But sometimes, your plans work out!
You feel fulfilled and in control.
That’s because, if you were always failing,
You might give up. But remember,
It is by failures that lovers
Stay aware of how they’re loved.
Failure is the key
To the kingdom within.
“Remember, it is by failures that lovers, stay aware of how they are loved.” Okay, heart feels a little bit better, I can blame it all on God for making me want to be a published author in the first place. The desire to dive back into bed the still feels like the best option. But, that would just make me feel guilty that I’m not getting any work done, add that to feeling like a failure and hello – drinking binge. Nope. Not going there. I’ll just remind myself that LOTS of great writers suffered through the whole rejection nonsense. That each time I venture out to string words together, by the time I get to the end of the sentence, I am already a better writer than when I started.
So, thanks for listening to me today, I promise not to be so self-indulgent in the future. Any one have any other “rejection blues” antidotes they want to share?
I think we can all relate to what you’re feeling. It sucks. I can’t handle more than one drink, such a lightweight, and that wouldn’t help much. On days like what you’re going through, I do escape into sleep, if I’m able to. I think having a good support system of other writers does wonders. People who don’t write just can’t quite grasp what we go through. Right now I’m dealing with technical crap. It it isn’t one thing, it’s another, huh? That’s why I love humorous posts. We need all the smiles and laughs we can get! Hang in there. You’ll get your spunk back.
Rachel, Is there a reason that you’re not publishing this book yourself?
All the best advice I’ve received about self-publishing is not to start with just one book. Have at least three ready to go. I really like that idea and my book is the first of a trilogy. My plan is to pursue the traditional publishing routes, but in the mean time, write two more great books so I have a great package to present when/if I do start self-publishing. Thanks for stopping by.
Bummer about the rejection. The sting will lessen over time.
Never shoot for “good enough”, aim for greatness and one day someone (Agent/Editor) will see the sparkle in your manuscript :). That’s what I told myself through every revision. Now I just need my agent to sell the book (groans).
I love Rumi’s poetry. I don’t think we would appreciate success as much without the failures.
One thing that helps me in difficult times is this quote by John Vance Cheney:
“The soul would have no rainbow, had the eyes no tears.”
Hope you have a great weekend, out of bed and not drinking :)!
Hi Isis, not to worry about the booze, the crisis is over. The best antidote is to get back on the horse. I am working out the plot twists for the next book in the trilogy. I’m also heading for Houston in November for Story Masters a writers workshop that should be a nice inspiration boost. Thanks for stopping by.
I know it’s like a shot to the heart, but I also look at it as one step closer to your goal. One rejection closer to that “YES! We love it!”
How many people turned J.K. Rowlings away? 12. Kathryn Stockett received 60 for what would become her best seller “The Help.”
So keep heart and keep up the spirit and turn to your fellow writers when you need to. Determination, perseverance and follow through. That’s what will get you there my friend.
Thanks Debra, I file under the category of “what doesn’t kill me makes me tougher.” There’s a part of me that just hates the idea of wasting so much time sending out my work — can’t they see, I”m brilliant, dammit. I’m not quitting, I’m not going away. And it is one rejection closer to the big “YES”
thanks so much!
I know. The day will come when you will get your deal and you will want to flaunt it, rub it in their faces, “Look! See, you should have said YES!” But we can hold our head up high knowing our value. That’s what matters the most. I believe in you.
I’ve been down the rejection road quite a few times in my life. Not just with my books, unfortunately! But, I find I am a better person for all that. And after a rejection, I pull out the manuscript and edit it some more. It truly does get better each time. When it’s ready, it will happen. I have confidence that the universe (God) will work with me to make it happen. The same goes for you and anyone else following their dream…a dream they BELIEVE in!
I’ve decided to go the way of other Indies. More and more people are turning to e-readers (including me and I never thought THAT would happen). Now I can offer my stories to the public on my own but what comes with that is a LOT of responsibility. Right now I’m in the process of finding an editor I can afford (one will come I just KNOW it!!). I am focused on getting my book out by the end of the year…just in time for all the new e-readers who received their great reading devices for Christmas!!
Best of luck to you!!!
Oh, the rejection. Blech. It can be such a punch to the gut. I can so totally, totally relate with this post. Hang in there, and keep at it, girlie! You can lean on us when you’re feeling blue-ish.
On a mildly unrelated note, check this out: http://www.haikubags.com/shop/laptop-ipad/rm-bo1-bl I love this bag so, so much, and it has some of Rumi’s words quoted on the sides. Best laptop bag I’ve ever owned, and who knows? Maybe a little retail therapy will perk you up when you’re feeling low. 🙂
Aww, Rachel, what a bummer!
I know how you feeeeeeeel! Pipped at the bloody post. Do NOT give up.
It’s interesting. Two years ago I’d have been devastated and, like Lyn, would have gone to bed for a day, or two, feeling rejected and a crap writer. But, no more. What changed was that I got cancer, breast cancer. Now I’m not telling you this to say there’s always someone worse off than yourself. Because my cancer was found purely by accident. The pathologist told my surgeon ‘tell her she has six guardian angels, because if this had spread she would have a fight on her hands.’ Yep, they caught the bastard very early. I now have one bionic boob, no chemo, no radiotherapy. So now, I spit in the face of defeat and rejection. If a publisher does not want me (although they love my voice) I say … next one please?
However, things have changed over the past few months and I’m going down the indie route. Plenty of people have been pushing me in this direction for over a year. But I need at least four books under my belt and I’m about to start No 3. This doesn’t stop me subbing, but publishers are jittery and don’t know which way to jump or to take a risk on a new writer unless they already have a platform, which we are building one word at a time.
You’re doing everything right, so keep doing it. You’re funny and crazy and I bet it comes over in your writing. So I’d definately buy you.
BIG HUG from across the Atlantic.
Hi Christine, Wow, you are a lucky lady for catching the breast cancer so soon. That disease did in my husband’s first wife. As for publishing, I’m so convined that publishers are just clinging on to the old models for dear life. They are going to pump all their resources into their top people, the James Pattersons and Clive Custlers and will be too afraid to try something new.
It’s nice to have found such a great group of writers to keep our hopes and our energy up. Thanks for being such a great, supportive WANA. And you are right, I’m funny, and crazy yet I write serious, atmospheric murder mysteries. Go figure.
I’m not surprised you write serious, atmospheric murder mysteries at all. I love thrillers. You like to visit the dark side, and so do I but in a different way.
Although I write contemporary romance, they’re not at all soppy, they rock and roll along and deal with reasonably complex emotional issues. My heroines tend to be a bit of a handful.
The fantasy I write is placed in 2039 in a dark urban future where an avian/swine flu mutation has decimated earth’s human population. And magic is rising again on earth. Enter my Vampire hero (he own’s the world’s largest pharmaceutical company which came up with a vaccine. He manufactures synthetic hemoglobin for his race.) and my Untouchable Witch who is a Commander in the World Health Protectorate and off we go! Great fun.
Switching from one genre to the other I think keeps me fresh.
Writing is a lonely business, and it’s great to share the journey with you guys.
I love it! The big Pharma Vampire and the Untouchable Witch. My romances are a lot simpler, usually plain old priests falling in love with shamans. Lots of possibilities there.
And of course all my romances are sad and difficult and gut-wrenching. I like to weave them in amongst all the other dark stuff, the intriguing murder mystery and suspense stuff. It is all good. And it has been a blast hooking up with the wana1011 team.
I love gut-wrenching romance. Actually I’m messing about with a couple of difficult scenes and need to drill deep to write them. There will be tears, but hey, as long as the reader cries along with me!