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Love Letter to Fellow Writers

We’re in one hell of a business, aren’t we? Every job, every career has it’s ups and downs, but I’ll leave those who are mired in theirs to communicate those woes. For me, it’s always been about writing. I’m sure my story’s like so many others–from the tender age of who-can-even-remember, it’s all I’ve ever wanted. The ability to touch, reach, and change people with my stories. Sensitive, shy little me, always buried in a book.

So I worked hard. I read every book I could get my hands on, studied the guidebooks of writing, forced myself into the disciplines. Like so many others, soldiered through NaNoWriMo. I honed my craft, and even today I’m still learning. I’m ALWAYS writing. My college years were spent jotting down stories between classes, and my spare moments stolen by my laptop, a pen and paper, and whatever story claimed control of my brain.

And then came submission time–and the ensuing rejections. There’s nothing quite so vulnerable as that first time throwing your work out there and receiving those emails. That your work isn’t good enough–and let’s face it guys, there’s a part in every one of us longing for that validation, even if it’s as simple as someone wanting to share your world for a moment. So I’d get shut down, take my open wounds, and learn from them. Countless hours spent in scouring blogs for tips, spent workshopping with friends, or in forums. As so many of us do.

Over time, you build the thicker skin–you grow more resilient to the blows. Query rejections? What ever! Try, rejections to your full. Try rejections to your manuscript when you sub it off to indie publishers. That’s when the nails pierce deeper, when the vital organs are hit, and some days, you wrap yourself in a blanket and hide away, too torn and tattered to face the world. Those are the darker times, and I don’t wish them on anyone–but I also know we all go through them. Get angry, get sad, get desperate–but get up. You keep getting up. And you keep writing.

For me, my first book was independently published, and I’ve gone that route through several others. Here’s the deal folks, publishing, whether it be with the big leagues or the little guys, isn’t the end. It’s not a Jane Austen novel where you’ve had your back and forth repartee and marriage is the big final ending. Any married couple will laugh at that novelty, because we all know it’s just the beginning of the work. Same goes with publishing. Get a book out and you don’t bask in the glow of a thousand suns.

The reality? Unless you’re one of the rare few who gets lucky on first strike–lands an agent, a book deal, and a mass following–it is hard, excruciating, and often defeating work. And you’re still fighting. Always fighting. One thing doesn’t change though–even with the heartbreak, even with the negative reviews, bad days, poor sales, rejections–we’re still writing. Most times it’s a tireless, thankless job, but it’s always there. The compulsion to write never leaves a writer. Maybe you take a break, maybe you spend some time apart, but it’s there, the words written in your bones, your DNA, in every strand and fiber of what makes you whole.

Bleak outlook, right? Anyone who knows me though can expect what’s coming next. I go through my emotional swings all the time, but at the end of the day, I can’t help but hope. I can’t help but dream and believe.

One thing we have through all of this is each other. We’ve got a community full of people WHO UNDERSTAND. Who get it. Who’ve been there. Others who have faced the rejections, who’ve faced bad reviews, who’ve been knocked down a thousand times and keep standing back up. We keep writing. So this is me, reaching out, in case you haven’t found your community yet. In case you haven’t found those folks who dust you up when you’re down, and understand what you’re going through.

Your struggle is valid–it’s real, and it’s tough. All the negativity and all the hurt can threaten the gentlest of souls, but don’t let it harden you. Don’t let it scare you away, make you quit, or make you snuff those dreams out. From that struggle, learn. Grow bolder, and stronger, until the world has to take you seriously. But for now, when the world is harsh, and it threatens to steal your summers away, take solace that you are understood. We’re here in the trenches with you.

Posted in Articles

Writing Installment #2

Paranoia sets in at this stage of my edits. Whenever I near the end of the edits on a big manuscript and start working on a query, that niggling sense of fear and doubt finds a way through my armor and begins to paralyze me. What if it’s just another failure?

Writers face rejection all the time. It’s how this whole thing works, like with most artists. We’re rejected by our peers, we’re rejected by reviewers, we’re rejected by agents, publishers, or even readers. We’re fighting from the onset, and it’s a soul-sucking battle. Hence the need for thick skin and a support system. I’d be nowhere without it.

However, it never hits me more keenly than that step up to the precipice, as I stare into the void of what-ifs, when I’m getting close to submission time. I get seized by fear, and all of those worries start overtaking me. It’s a deadening brew.

At that point, I’m simply grateful for my family and friends, because whenever I take that leap, get a bruise, maybe even a concussion, they’re there to dust me off and help me back on two feet again.

Granted, I’m sure it’s infuriating that I keep leaping every time. Talk about a kid who doesn’t learn when they put their hand in the fire.

Only time will tell if it’s stupidity or bravery.

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Quotes About Rejection

Every writer has been through it–the dreaded rejection. Whether it be via query, via agent request, publisher submission, or even just rejection from peers, when someone gives a harsh critique on your work, etc. It’s never easy. I compiled a list of quotes regarding rejection, because sometimes what does help are words of empathy.

“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” -Bo Bennett

“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.” –Kurt Vonnegut

“I think that you have to believe in your destiny; that you will succeed, you will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours – so enjoy the view.” –Michael York

“There is probably no hell for authors in the next world – they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this.” –C.N. Bovee

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your dreams. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great.” -Mark Twain

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” -Samuel Beckett

“You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.” -Isaac Asimov

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” -Thomas Edison

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Challenges of a Writer

Gotta say, you won’t find a tougher group than writers.

Rejection? We deal with it daily.
Criticism? Always.
Judgment? Just look at someone’s reaction when you tell them what you do.

But here’s the kicker, because despite all that we continue to write–in whatever way possible.

Not stupid, maybe a little stubborn and definitely driven. Driven by emotions, desires, concerns, and issues. Driven to see a greater world, to spark a change or to dive headfirst into the darkest depths just to grasp that seed of hope.

So to all those writers out there, whatever stages you may be in–keep writing. Our pen is a weapon and our words are the daily battles we face.