Sunday, March 6, 2016

Don’t Ditch Your Novel

Rejections. You might think you prepared yourself. You probably didn’t. The longer you worked on a book and the harder you hoped, the more it hurts. It might hurt worse that loved ones who aren’t writers don’t completely understand. The clash between book and business is an ugly one. Suddenly you’re a wordsmith without the words to communicate disappointment—the pain.

Clichés you would normally never use fill your tortured mind. “I can’t believe how bad this hurts!” “My insides are emptied out.” “It’s like being kicked in the stomach.” “No one will ever love my book.” “No one understands me.” “I’m a failure!”

But after all the time, energy, and heart you already invested, does it make sense to cower in a corner? Lick your wounds in the dark? Of course not. Grace Hopper, a Navy Rear Admiral born in 1930, who surely had her share of disappointments, said, “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” Didn’t you build your book for readers? Go get some.

Tip: Don’t give up on your book too soon. Watch out how you define “too soon.”

If it feels as if you’re starting fifty steps below square one, read Chuck Wendig’s superb blog on rejection at And try these.

~ Remember why you want to be a writer—and why you poured your heart into this book.
           “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ― Ray Bradbury

~ Maintain your sense of humor.
            Here’s what they told Dr. Seuss about “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street:
“Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”

~ Learn from any criticism you’re lucky enough to receive.
“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.” – James Lee Burke

~ Stand up straight. Don’t slouch.
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” — Harper Lee

~ Redirect your emotions.
“Was I bitter? Absolutely. Hurt? You bet your sweet ass I was hurt. Who doesn’t feel a part of their heart break at rejection. You ask yourself every question you can think of, what, why, how come, and then your sadness turns to anger. That’s my favorite part. It drives me, feeds me, and makes one hell of a story.” — Jennifer Salaiz

~ Write something.
It’s fine to start out negative. But swiftly assume figure skater mentality. If you fall, get right up and execute the next leap. That’s what skaters and writers do. After all, “A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.” — Sidney Sheldon

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