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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rejection and Reflection the two 'R's of a Writer's Reality

When you're a writer, or any other kind of artist for that matter, there comes a time in your creative life when you spread your wings and try to fly. You spend your time preparing, honing your work...polishing it, loving it, dreaming about how it will be accepted. You daydream, you worry back and forth, but eventually you step to the ledge, close your eyes and jump...praying the whole time that the thud won't be too loud or too painful if it doesn't work out.

This scenario applies in almost every situation a writer faces, from the decision to write, to eventually submitting your work to be judged.

So, since all art is subjective, it becomes a matter of statistics. At some point in our careers we will all face rejection. It can come from a publisher telling us, thanks but no thanks, a bad review, poor sales, or not making the cut in some contest judged by industry professionals.

What happens then? What next?

For me...and many of my peers...we spend time wallowing in a vat of chocolate. But when you're done consoling yourself and you're either ready to puke or you've gained 10lbs, you climb out and it's time for reflection.

By reflection I don't mean go grab a whip and start self-flagellation. I mean ask yourself a few simple questions...

1. Was I happy with my finished my story, did I love my characters?
2. Did I enjoy writing it?
3. Does writing bring me joy?
4. Am I good at it?
5. Can I get even better?

and the most important questions of all....

If I stop writing, will I be happy? Is that what I want to do?

The questions are easy, it's the answers that are hard. Basically, every writer has to ask themselves who it is exactly that they write for? Why they write? If the answer is for money and fame, then in my opinion you're in it for some very wrong reasons. Those two things are fringe benefits that come with luck. If you do it because it's what you love, then the rest doesn't really matter. The nuts and bolts of your craft will come with time and practice...but a love of storytelling will make the difference between something average and something great.


  1. Good post, Marianne!
    A loooong time ago an author at a conference handed out small posters: "Quitting is not an option" I still have that posted prominently on my desk as a reminder. Because it really isn't an option for me. No matter how good or bad it gets 'out there', I'd be miserable (and so would anyone who bothered to stick around) if I stopped writing.

    All the best!

  2. Regan,

    It seems like these life lessons get thrown at us at every curve in the road. Mine came yesterday when Hunter's Blood didn't make the last cut as a finalist for the RWA RITA contest. But it's all good. My publisher said she was going to do a little digging with her contacts there to see if should could shed a little light as to why. But in the end it really doesn't matter. I LOVE what I do, and based on my reviews and most of the feedback I've gotten the book has been well received. Who knows what the criteria was for the contest? My work is more Urban Fantasy than Romance, so maybe that was the hurtle that knocked me out of the race... either way it's onward and upward!

  3. Pick yourself up. dust yourself off and start all over again after a Dirty Martini!!!! (with friends who love you...chink...the sound of our glasses toasting you my friend )....


  4. Great post - rejections happen, and you've really got to consider what step to take next. I've got some books I may never publish that have been rejected. Trying to "fix" them has led to many doubts about whether or not the story is "good" enough, or if I like how it sounds.
    Keep writing. Only look back if you think the book can be salvaged.


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