Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Don't [Pity] Party Too Hard

It's my morning ritual to check my emails as soon as I wake up. It's silly, really, since I know agents are, contrary to popular belief, also human beings and must sleep and don't ALWAYS work through the night to keep on top of the infinite number of queries they receive. But every morning I click on the little mail icon, hold my breath, and hope for a reply. JOYOUS OF JOYS, today I DID actually get one. And one I've been anxiously waiting for. And it wwwassss... yet another rejection. This time for my only full request. And while it was an immensely encouraging rejection that shot rays of hope through my phone screen, it was still a rejection. And so I threw a tantrum.

"I JUST WANT TO BE A WRITER," I yelled, exercising my human right to be a big baby. And while it's not one of my proudest moments, though perhaps adulting at its finest, I'm telling you about it because it's also nothing to be embarrassed of. It's okay to want something so bad that it's the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing you think about before you go to bed. And part of me thinks that's the only way to get what you want: to want it THAT HARD.

To want it SO hard that you throw a baby tantrum when you can't get it. Not because it's shiny and expensive, but because it's you and it's your dream and you know your life won't be complete without it.

If only just wanting something was enough! Even hard work--that wholesome, old-fashioned notion--isn't enough sometimes. We'd all be writers by now if just want and hard work were all it took.
But there should be a disclaimer attached to writerly dreams: "writer" is synonymous with "rejection." You'll get rejected. So. Many. Times. And BUY ME A ONE WAY TICKET TO FEELADELPHIA, does being book-blocked start to chisel away at your soul.

But I think there IS a way to protect your heart and soul and dreams against rejection. And it takes three things (the 3Ds if you will): Determination, Dedication, and Desensitization.

The first two are obvious (cue "Eye of the Tiger"). But desensitization sounds like the start of a debate on violence and video games. And what I mean by the third D is, DON'T TAKE REJECTION PERSONALLY. And it's gonna feel awful personal, so it's no easy feat. That was your mindchild someone just passed on! How dare they!?
But sometimes a rejection truly has NOTHING to do with your skill as a writer. There are so many other factors: it's in an overly-saturated genre, your query letter didn't quite do the story justice, or maybe the agent already has too many authors in that area.

And if it DOES have something to do with your writing, be objective about it! Could you have spent a bit more time editing? Did it need a 4th or 5th draft? Could you have found a few more beta readers? Would it hurt to read a couple "how to write" books? Maybe not!

Either way, Desensitize that rejection nerve. Take the hit and then PUNCH REJECTION BACK. IN THE FACE (so much caps lock in this post... left my chill at home). Better yet, print out that rejection and stick it on your wall! Because that rejection letter is tangible proof that you're following your dreams. You're ACTIVELY pursuing something bigger than yourself (because creating something that hundreds--no, thousands--nay, MILLIONS--of people can connect to and see themselves in is soooo much bigger than just one person) and a lot of people aren't brave enough to do that.

But, keeping all that and those 3 Ds in mind, rejections are still gonna suck--no matter how objective you are or how thick your skin is. And I'm not saying you can't throw yourself a pity party. But let's not call it that. Make it something more than about pitying yourself. Let's call it a passion tantrum. And you deserve that passion-tantrum every once in a while. Just keep it brief and then channel it into something more productive when you're done. "Woe is me" does not a writer make... Unless you're Poe. He was pretty woeful.

At the end of the day, all we need is ONE yes. Even if it comes only after hundreds of no's. These authors got plenty of rejections and if they had quit at any time they wouldn't be where they are now. Success could be just beyond the horizon and quitting accomplishes nothing except to ensure that your dreams will not come true. I'm not going to quit, SO DON'T YOU QUIT EITHER (if you're thinking about quitting that is. If you're not, then crack on, my confident writer-friend!)

So while we're allowed to feel like this every now and then: 

Turn it into this when you're done:

~Be mindful of the pity parties. They give life to excuses.~


  1. Thank you SO much for this. A beautiful reminder for us all to keep on keeping on. Definitely trying to keep my writer tantrums succinct these days. Time spent whinging can be better spent writing :)

    1. Thank YOU! Man, I've been there. I'm STILL there! It really is a stamina game--your best offense is hard work, your best defense is being stubborn as hell! I'm pretty sure I have the defense part down haha ;)