If you’re a serious writer–and by that I mean someone who writes damn-near every day and consistently submits work in hopes of making a sale–you’ll receive rejections.
And if you’re in the game long enough, you’ll likely reach a point–probably more than once–where the latest rejection is the one that makes you consider giving up forever.
I hit that wall this week.
I’m not a candy-ass when it comes to rejection; it’s part of the game and I don’t take it personally. I’ve cultivated broad shoulders and a thick skin. Anyway, it’s only one person’s opinion of one piece of writing. No editor can accept everything they’re sent.
Does rejection sting? Of course, it does. No one likes having their child kicked to the curb, but in the face of all the competition, it’s inevitable. The heartbreak of receiving one rejection after another wears on you, eroding the sand of your self-confidence. But if you’re going to write–if you’re called to it–you’d better come to terms with that reality and accept it as part of the game.
I love the work involved in writing. I’m the sort of sick individual who takes pleasure in editing–honing, cutting, tightening a narrative, killing my darlings (those lines or scenes I love, but which accomplish little)–for the sake of crafting a better story. What drives me mad, is when the issue with a piece of writing is something I can’t address.
Case in point:
My agent, Bonnie Solow, is shopping around a book of mine; narrative nonfiction. Over the past few weeks, several editors have expressed interest. Exciting times! One editor in particular was on fire about the project. She really loves it. She presented it to her editorial group, and they loved it, too. But issues arose because I don’t have a “platform.” What that means to you non-writers out there, is that I’m not a noted authority in the field, a celebrity, a household name, or have a blog or website or Twitter-feed with tens of thousands of followers, i.e, a ready-made market.
It’s a sort-of catch-22. To be published, I need to already have a market, but I can’t grow a market unless I’m published. Frustrating? You bet. For the editor, it means she has to turn down a book she believes in, a book she wants. For readers, it means that the circle of books made available will grow smaller and smaller if the chief criteria is whether or not the author is already popular. For me as the writer, it’s maddening to know there’s little I can do to remedy the situation. A manuscript issue would be easy to fix, but this?
Can I build a following? Theoretically, sure. (See the catch-22 above.) Problem is, I have difficulty blogging or tweeting just to hear myself talk. I’m no good with idle chit-chat. I’m weak in marketing know-how, I admit, but willing to learn if someone will give me the chance. This book is my baby, and I’m ready to work my butt off to see it succeed.
The frustration of being told my book was good, but … (the second time this has happened to me), made me wonder why I bother; why I persist in the face of what often seems insurmountable odds. The truth is, I keep going because I’m stubborn. And because I’m tired of being told what I can and can’t have.
But the biggest reason is because I was born a writer. It’s who I am, and what I do. To not write would be to commit suicide of the soul.
There are no guarantees, but I’ll take the odds. I can do no less.