Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Counseling Session

The time will come for everyone on their path to publishing that they will be rejected in some manner or another, whether by agent or editor or publishing house, or by losing a writing contest. In these cases, we all know how important it is to be fortified in soul, so that we can weather these rejections without wanting to rip our heads off in despair and stuff it into the trash can along with our work.

Unfortunately, it's really hard to maintain a clear mind after you’ve been rejected--especially if you're an emotion-driven person like me. The trick is to think ahead and prepare for the inevitable emotional breakdown in the event of rejection or losing, so that you do not embarrass yourself in front of others. In the actual heat of the rejection, when it hits you like a fly hitting the windshield of a double semi whittling down an empty interstate, you will not be able to maintain sense whatsoever -- in fact, you will trick yourself into disbelieving any emergency good thoughts your brain will try to come up with.

So, with that in mind, I give you help now, while you’re sane and your wits have not yet been blown to smithereens and you think everything you’ve ever written, including your name and address, is a complete failure.

Think of these things in the face of rejection:

  • Agents/editors are subjective. Remember that time you read a list of contest entries on that one blog and you thought more than half of them were utter toilet fodder, yet the agent/editor picked one of the crap ones as the winner? Exactly. Not being picked now doesn’t mean you’re terrible, it just means that you didn’t appeal at this exact moment. Action required: keep moving forward.
  • If your submission is posted on a blog or other online forum, for the love of books, please don't post defensive replies to the critiques, if there are any! Action required: remain professional and keep your trap shut.
  • This contest/submission probably doesn’t accurately represent your work. Action required: work on creating a better sample, or revising the query.
  • If you were given feedback on your sample/submission/query, make sure to wait a few days and think about it before making changes.
  • Also wait a few days to let the disappointment die down. Most likely in three days, you’ll feel better again and like you can go forward once more.
  • Remember, this was a subjective contest/submission, and you’re professional and a good writer. You’re fine and you’ll go on. Action required: lock yourself in a dark room away from modes of communication, people, and animals, until sanity has returned.
Now, if you happen to win the contest or be asked to submit more, of course you will get a big head and exult in your genius. Be careful there, too, and don’t be obnoxious. Remember:

  • You can still be rejected down the road.
  • Your winning/being requested for more does not necessarily mark you as a fantastic New York Times bestseller. It just means your work caught the agent/editor’s eye today.
  • The other entries were not crap in comparison.
I hope these lists of emotional buoying helps you moderate the wild range of emotions you might experience. Above all, remember that if you persevere long enough, you’ll probably find your way to publication—but you must be willing to listen when people give you feedback that you don’t want to hear.

Carry on.

7 comments:

CKHB said...

Love the "action required" advice!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Great tips, good advice for talking yourself off the ledge for sure. Because we all end up there at some point, lol.

Travener said...

Good advice. I'll try to remember it after my next rejection.

Sierra Godfrey said...

No! No, Travener! You must think positively! Use the Secret! Positive thoughts! Think "I will use the Obnoxious Glory Going to My Head list instead"!

Travener said...

Certainly I will try. To answer your question, I was introduced to Loren on said elevator and sort of grunted in her general direction like a pig. (I was very tired at the time.) Also: Laphroaig.

Tina Lynn said...

Maybe you should post on actually getting up the nerve to submit something so that I could use the advice in this post:)

Sierra Godfrey said...

Grat idea. I think I will. Look for that next week!

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