I’ve talked about this before but I want to talk about it again as it pertains to writing and writers: The art of patience and indomitable spirit.
If you haven’t been writing for long, then you don’t yet fully understand the fear, anger, sadness and rage that comes with being a part- or full-time writer. Mainly this comes in the form of bold-faced rejections from agents, publishing houses, and literary magazines and journals.
But it also comes in the form of society being…well…conventional, mainstream society. What do I mean by that? Let’s be honest: Most people do not truly aspire to be full-time make-a-living novelists, and the ones that do are, to say the least, a rare species. They are, really, artists in the complete sense of the word. They are driven like nobody’s business and they write for mainly one simple, time-tested, proven reason: Because they have to.
For these people there honestly is no other thing they could imagine doing. Writing for these people is much more than an art, a craft, a joy, a day job, a skill, a series of classes at college, a workshop, or a way to relax or express themselves. No, for the writer who must write he or she is fully aware of the potential futility of their desire in terms of monetary reward.
My point here is not to deviate into a political debate, or to try and convince you to lean to the left, but to empathize with all you writers out there. Because I am one. Artists in general, but especially writers, do not get a good light in the media in our country. We don’t get paid well. We don’t get respected, at all, by America as a whole. That’s too bad, because, in my opinion, as well as many others’, we need writers in order to survive as a nation. The constitution is a written document, as are the amendments. Legislation is written material. I could go on and on. Without writing, creative and non creative (and the constitution is absolutely a creative document as well as a non-creative one), our nation would not have a soul. It would be lacking in heart.
But the bigger point I’m trying to make is: Being a writer is not easy. It takes big brass balls, the size of cantaloupes. I have had tons of experiences over the course of my writing career: being rejected for being a writer; being told (even by teachers in college!) to get on a ‘different career path’ because writing would never pay the bills; receiving brutal, insensitive feedback on my work; you name it. And you know what? I’m thankful now, in retrospect, for every single one of those experiences, because they made me who I am today. And they thickened my writing skin, made me not abhor rejection so much. That word, ‘unfortunately,’ though, still sends shivers down my spine. It equals rejection. But now I know: You get rejected one place, send to another. Simple as one two three.
So if you’re one of those writers feeling like giving up; before you do, think about how hard you’ve worked for the material you’ve thus far produced. Think about the literary toil. Read up and research other [famous] authors who went through the wringer to get where they are now. Like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and so, so many others. Check out this site (click here): Literary Rejections, for some great survival stories.
Our emotions are often tied to our stories. Ergo, when we get rejected, we become hurt, offended; we take it personally. Do yourself a favor: don’t. It’s not personal. Major publishing (even minor) is a very subjective, debatable, mysterious land, mainly rooted in New York City (though now all over the globe) that makes very interesting (and sometimes questionable) choices about who is a ‘good’ enough writer to get on the NYT bestseller list. Instead of taking rejection or negative feedback personally, find the right people who you trust to read your work, write write write, read read read, take classes, do workshops, attend conferences, and hire a solid book editor (like me!). Because you are important. Your writing makes a difference. And we’re all sitting here waiting to read it. There are no guarantees in this life, especially within the realm of writing and publishing. But for God’s sake, don’t let that stop you from writing. Do your best and don’t give up. If you haven’t landed an agent, the right one is out there waiting for you; give it time. If you have an agent but not the House, be patient, the right publishing firm is waiting for you, too. Eventually, all things come together; they converge.
Just be patient. Never give up hope. And write your ass off. Then hire me.