This has been a difficult lesson for me. I used to take the opinions of my family and friends to heart, thinking if they didn't like something I had written then it wasn't any good. This internal tension escalated as I started to submit my work to Agents and Publishers and receive rejection notes.
No one likes a rejection note. It's like receiving a "Dear John" letter from your boyfriend right before Prom. "Great," you cry, "now I have a dress and no one who wants to take me to the dance." At that moment, as in your writing career, you have two choices: sit at home and sob, grow bitter and eventually end up being known as the scary cat-lady who lives alone at the end of the block - OR - put your pretty dress on and ask someone else to take you to Prom.
Before my first novel, No Easy Way, was published by Vanilla Heart, I received nearly 40 rejection letters. I also received 12 industry reviews that ripped my manuscript to shreds. If I told you I didn't cry I would be lying. I sat there on the floor with my pretty prom dress and debated quitting.
"Who are you to think you could be a published author?" Insecurity asked.
I shrugged and a tear fell. "Nobody I guess," was my answer.
"Why were you stupid enough to think you could beat the odds?" Inferiority taunted.
Another tear fell and the lump grew bigger in my throat.
“Your writing isn’t good enough!” Lack of Confidence spewed. “You’ll never be good enough.”
Somewhere between acknowledging my fears and wallowing in my failures, it hit me. What does “good” really mean? Until I could define that, I decided I wasn’t ready to quit.
I got off the floor that day and ended my pity-party. I studied every review and a made a list of their suggested changes to my manuscript. I re-read every rejection letter and jotted down any positive thing mentioned and any area of needed improvement. Then, I began my journey of re-writing with a goal to become “good” in the eyes of one agent or publisher who would be willing to take me to Prom.
Six months later, Vanilla Heart asked me to the dance and I excitedly accepted.
What I hope fellow writers will learn from my experience is that when someone rejects what you have written, it isn’t because you’re not “good”… it’s because they don’t like onions or 80’s music or think George Clooney is the end-all in sensual cravings.
Be “good” at not quitting… your invitation to Prom could be in the mail … so get your dress ready. ~