No, no, no…I’m not talking about my first crush in elementary school that crossed his eyes and ran the other direction when I professed my true love. Although I have to say that it could’ve been worse if I hadn’t watched, with my tender heart in pieces, as he slid to a stop and ran into the monkey bars. My best friend’s giggles quickly helped to start the healing process as the teacher picked gravel out of his elbows. My true love today, besides family and friends, would be my stories. Every hurt, joy, stress I feel is woven into my writing. It can get pretty emotional and I sometimes feel the torture I put my characters through. My contemporary stories focus on real life drama and intense relationships in small town America. Rugged cowboys, oh my, and the strong women that fight back when life tries to buck and bully them. And with as much emotion as I put into my stories, can you imagine the anxiety I felt when I first submitted my work to a critique group, and then the pain when the first response was a woman blasting me with tons of red ink? I actually considered quitting as I’m sure many others have done after rejection knocked them for a loop. But I have been truly blessed with my current critique partners, and even a few from the past. They steer me in the right direction with constructive criticism and have taught me so much along the way. They cheer me on and supply chocolate and hugs when I get shot down.
The reason rejections are felt more strongly than normal is because writing is personal. My stories are something I put my heart into and when they’re rejected, I tend to take it personally. It’s hard not to. I’ve been writing for publication for almost seven years now and received my first rejection letter within three months of submitting. That is a quick response considering I know several writers that have been waiting a year, or two, for an editor to respond. They say that no news is good news. Really? Hand me a silver bucket I can throw up in from the overwhelming anxiety every time the phone rings or bings with notification that I have an email.
I have to admit though, my first editor rejection was a good one as far as rejections go. It was a revise and resubmit. The story was ultimately rejected but the process wasn’t as heartbreaking as I’ve been through since. I think the worst I’ve received was a form letter that they just plugged my name into the greeting. A critique partner received one with her name but the wrong manuscript title. The hard part about those types of rejections is not knowing if you even had a chance. Is there something you need to change or did you just get the wrong editor/agent on the wrong day? When you are receiving multiple rejections, examine the rejection letters (or critiques) and see if you can find common suggestions, mistakes. Do you feel as though you can make the changes without losing your voice?
There are plenty of authors with success stories out there with bestselling books on the market that are proud of the hundreds of rejection letters before they found the one editor, or agent, that led them to success. My first rejection was hard to swallow though I’m sure it could’ve been much worse. I find encouragement when I’m down by reading about how other authors have struggled but they kept plugging away and persevered. My post today sounds like it’s geared more toward the writer, but anyone can apply this post to something they really want to accomplish. Make positive changes if needed, but don’t give up if you really want something. Success is always the best revenge.
Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!