Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Believe In Yourself

Rejections are strange beasts. They rip the very core of an author to shreds, but they tend to implant power and courage in the wounded soul. Now that I’ve sent off my Little Darling to an agent in New York, I’m hopeful, yet I embrace myself for what might be waiting in the shadows. Whatever the outcome, I will hold up my head and limp toward my goal with more courage than before. Such is the plight of all authors.

In fact, I was surprised to discover such blockbuster books received so many rejections. Take the examples below for instance:

  • Kathryn Stockett's The Help was turned down 60 times before it became a best seller and a movie.
  • Stephanie Meyer sent out 15 Twilight manuscripts, received nine rejections, five no responses, and one interested party. 
  • J. K. Rowling received 12 rejections for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
  • Madeline L Engle's A Wrinkle in Time was turned down 29 times.

I could hardly believe the degrading comments that editors and agents wrote back about these future greats:

  • A rejection letter to Pierre Roulle about his Bridge Over River Kwai said, A very bad read."
  • H.G. Wells received these depressing words about The War of the Worlds. "An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would "take" ...I think the verdict would be 'Oh don't read that horrid book'."
  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold drew this comment: "(this book has) no future..."
  • Someone in the publishing world said about Herman Melville's Moby Dick, "We regret to say that out united opinion is entirely against the book as we do not think it would be at all suitable for the Juvenile Market in (England). It is very long, rather old-fashioned..."
  • Even Stephen King received this comment about Carrie. "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell." 

These rejections are words we all dread to hear in our pursuit of publication. And if these proven authors had let the beasts latch on and devour them, they would never have received recognition for their efforts.

So I ask you to join me. Plant solid footing, don your suit of impenetrable armor, and meet the beast head on—if it attacks. But remember, the most sure defense against those rejections that may come is to believe in yourself. You may have to improve, regroup, and re-enter the arena, but each step toward the unknown makes you stronger.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Finding Time to Write

For the first twenty years after I decided I wanted to be an author, I could never find time to write. At least, that’s what I told myself over and over again. Life got in the way. My husband, the children, the pets, church responsibilities, blah, blah, blah.

The sad fact is, I wasted those precious years of writing time because I didn’t realize I had to carve out moments to fit my busy schedule. I could have written early in the morning, or late at night. I could have written during my kids naptime or while I waited for the laundry to dry. It certainly didn’t mean the task was easier, just doable. I could have hacked out a book or two or three over the years and be in a better place than I am now—farther along in my quest to become a published author.

While I’m talking about wasting time, it does me no good to complain about those lost years. My message to you is to find the time in every free moment you have right now, whatever may have occurred before. I’m no less busy today than I was twenty years ago. If I had to guess, I’d say I am even more busy. But I’m also a lot smarter. Over the last two and half years, I’ve completed my second novel one hour a day, at 4:30 in the morning, during lunch breaks, or during the television programs I choose not to turn on. I have just about prepared my manuscript for submittal. The process has taken a lot longer than I had hoped, but chewing off one piece at a time has allowed me to finally accomplish my goal.

So start today. Stop complaining. Just write…whenever you can. Eventually, you’ll find the rewards waiting at the end of that sludge of life you are plowing through at the moment. And when you look back, you’ll see you are a lot farther along than if you hadn’t put your fingers to the keyboard at all