Friday, February 6, 2009

On Rejection

I'd like to thank the blog hosts, first of all, for allowing me the opportunity to join in here on a topic that is near and dear (okay, maybe just near) to my heart. I don't know if everyone experiences the same kind of terror at the prospect of actually submitting their work to a market, but I definitely feel the cool fingers of fear clutch at my stomach whenever I seal that envelope--or click on that send button.
It's natural. An author puts a great deal of effort into any writing. Manuscripts are a labor of love complete with characters that feel like friends, places that feel like home, and plot that, after edit after edit, feels like memory. Sending that labor out for judgement can seem like a very personal risk.
No matter how much we read or hear about accepting rejection, paying our dues, etc. that rejection slip still looms on the horizon like a black flag. It is scary, I know. I've been collecting flags for some time now.
Personally, I've developed a simple technique to master that fear of the slip. I borrowed a little trick from my co-dependent beginnings: the black box. Very unhealthy folks use the black box to stuff away unwanted emotions, repressed feelings, things they'd rather not examine. I chose to recycle the box, dust it off, and put it to good use. Now, it has three major functions:
I lock my editor in it when I'm writing. (A trick I learned from nanowrimo)
I use it to contain my ego when editing and receiving critique, and
I put my fears away when submitting.
When used correctly the little box is a pretty useful tool after all.
But seriously, a lot of healthy folks out there don't possess the emotion box, (I assume) and truly, locking up fear isn't as easy as it sounds. What to do?
Well, I've collected a few great tips that can help any author accept, and maybe even embrace, those pesky rejections. I hope they work for all of you as well.
1. Cultivate a stubborn streak-- being downright, unabashedly, obnoxiously stubborn can do wonders for the author who might otherwise falter and stop submitting. Some of us are naturally obnoxious, but for the nice folks out there, use us as a model. Grit your teeth and refuse to give up. Practice in front of a mirror if necessary.
2. Enlist cheerleaders--round up family and friends and convince them to encourage you, bribe them, whine, pay strangers if necessary. The point is, get support. It's always a good idea to find and network with other authors who may be more sympathetic to your plight as well.
3. Set challenges--if you have a shred of a competitive streak, make a game of it. For example, when submitting my very first piece, I vowed every time I received a rejection to send the manuscript out to two additional markets.
4--Don't stop believin'--Really, this is the big one. You want to be a published author? Believe you already are---work like one, act like one, think like one. No giving up, no crying. (Okay, go ahead and cry) Just keep writing!! Don't wait around for that nibble, published authors have no time to sit idle. They have deadlines. (fear clutching again) Write and write and write some more. At the very least, you'll up your odds for success.
Best of luck, and I'll see you in the trenches.

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