Monday, November 23, 2009

 

Remembering Rejections


On The Muffin, we've posted about rejections before. As a writer, you've probably heard all the standard rejection advice: personal rejections are good, a rejection is at least a response, and everybody gets rejected.

That's what I want to focus on today--during Thanksgiving week--

Everybody gets rejected!

I received an e-mail over the weekend, reminding me of this fact, and I thought it would be great to share it with my fellow women writers as a reminder not to give up, not to see one rejection as the end of your career. Look at this list:

Dune by Frank Herbert – 13 rejections

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – 14 rejections

Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis – 17 rejections

Jonathan Livingston Seagull – 18 rejections

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle – 29 rejections

Carrie by Stephen King – over 30 rejections

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – 38 rejections

A Time to Kill by John Grisham – 45 rejections

Louis L’Amour, author of over 100 western novels – over 300 rejections before publishing his first book

John Creasy, author of 564 mystery novels – 743 rejections before publishing his first book

Ray Bradbury, author of over 100 science fiction novels and stories – around 800 rejections before selling his first story

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – rejected so universally the author decided to self-publish the book

So, when you open your mailbox and see the thin envelope OR open the e-mail and see, "Thank you for your submission but. . .", remember this list, don't give up hope, and be thankful that you can go back to the drawing board.

Happy Writing!
Margo Dill
http://margodill.com/blog/
Read These Books and Use Them



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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

 

In the Face of Criticism and Rejection

Have you ever felt like this poor Boxer in the picture when you have received a rejection or listened to criticism on your work or read a bad review about your book? I know I have. But what do you think this dog is going to do in an hour or two? Still look defeated and like he lost his best friend? No way! If you know anything about Boxers, he'll be wagging his tail and chasing a ball. Who knew we could learn an important lesson from a dog?

I attended the Missouri Writers' Guild conference this weekend and part of the program was called, "First Reads." This is where one to two pages of a conference attendee's manuscript is read aloud (anonymously), and then editors or agents comment on what they think about the piece. Would they keep reading if it showed up on their desks? What did they like? What didn't they like? and so on. I've been to several of these types of programs at conferences, and the good news is they are very helpful to see inside the minds of the people whom we want to represent and publish our work. The bad news is these sessions are often brutal.

The panel of editors and agents voicing their opinions on the "First Reads" are often like the American Idol judges. There's a Simon, there's a Paula, and there's a Kara/Randy. And the "Simon" editor ALWAYS winds up hurting some writer's feelings to the point where the writer doesn't want to attend the rest of the conference.

So, I decided to write this blog for two reasons. One--as a warning--if you are a new writer or are very sensitive to criticism of your work, then you SHOULD NOT put your work in these types of sessions. The advice you hear on other people's work is still valuable, and you can learn from them. Go to a few conference or critique group sessions before you participate in a First Read.

Number two is my larger point. As writers, we need to develop thick skin and a bounce-back ability because this career is hard. Even if you are the most wonderful writer in the world, someone isn't going to like your work. What's that cliche? You can't please everybody all the time, and that definitely applies here. If you want to be a successful writer, you're going to have to learn to face rejection and criticism, pout for a while like our Boxer above, and then go wag your tail and chase your dream.

If you are an American Idol fan, as I am, then I'll close with this. . .this season Adam Lambert is by far the best singer. He's favored to win more than any other contestant before, I think. On all the American Idol sites, he's what the commentators write about. I think he's great, and I can't wait for his performance each week. BUT. . .I'm sure we could easily find people who don't like him for one reason or another. They are rejecting him. Do you think Adam Lambert should go home and not attend the rest of the contest because of these rejections and criticisms? "Of course not," you say. "He would be crazy!" So, think about that the next time you want to give up when you're handed a rejection.

Happy writing!
Margo Dill
http://www.margodill.com/
Read These Books and Use Them (blog)
photo by dbking www.flickr.com

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Monday, February 16, 2009

 

Writing Inspiration Through Abraham Lincoln

On President's Day, I thought we could learn a little about perseverance and hard work through Abraham Lincoln. When I taught fifth grade full time, I used to have a poster about this very subject. I find Abe's spirit and story absolutely motivational and inspirational! Here's what I'm talking about. . .

1832 --Lost job, Defeated for state legislature
1833 --Failed in business
1835 --Sweetheart died
1836 --Had nervous breakdown
1838 --Defeated for Speaker
1843 --Defeated for nomination for Congress
1848 --Lost renomination for Congress
1849 --Rejected for land officer
1854 --Defeated for U.S. Senate
1856 --Defeated for nomination for Vice President
1858 --Again defeated for U.S. Senate
1860 Elected President
Of course, he had success along the way, or he would have never made it to president. You can see all his successes through that link above. But the point is that any one of those failures would have stopped many people from pursuing a career in politics, especially running for president. Some of his successes were small, and some were large, but each kept him going.
Are you celebrating your small and big successes? When you accomplish a writing goal, celebrate. When you win a writing contest, go out to dinner. If you get a book contract, open your front door and shout and scream and tell your neighborhood!
OR
Are you letting a rejection stop you from sending out more stories or queries? Is your novel in a drawer instead of working through it with a critique group and finding an agent? Are low book sales, due to the economy, making you doubt your career choice as a writer? Anytime you feel discouraged, remember there are people who have faced defeat. And in the face of defeat, they stuck out their tongues, wiped off their brows, and kept on going in spite of what anyone else thought or suggested.
Happy birthday to our former presidents. May we learn from history, so that our futures are even brighter!
Happy writing!
Margo Dill
photo by Seansie at www.flickr.com

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

 

Best of Luck Placing this Elsewhere


By Nadia Ali


We have all received that SASE that’s not heavy enough to be a contract and appears to have one single sheet of paper in it. For me, it is a time of awe and excitement as I look down at my own hand written address – a way that I have devised to differentiate my return envelopes.
Fragments of a query letter or article flash through my mind as I struggle to remember what I had submitted all those months ago. A part of me jumps up and down saying, "open it, open it" while a larger part of me stares hard at the envelope wondering whether I should open it now or later. My finger begins to slide across the top ripping it gently as I unfold the letter therein.

It is a rejection letter. I always try and handle it like a "professional writer" after all every job has it’s disadvantage and the biggest one in our line of work is the fact that we have one shot to impress an editor through our writing abilities in order to receive an assignment.

To date, I have only received one personal rejection letter that actually gave constructive criticism as to why the editor did not like it. Most of the time they are just form letters with my name either typed or hand written across the top. Some delivered with dignity and hope, others like a screwed piece of paper aimed right at me.

Rejection letters do hit hard, they do have a way of bringing you down, but after a while and having received so many of them you tend to see them in a different light and not as just being a personal attack. Bear in mind, that it takes a lot of courage to become a professional writer. Particularly as we tend to put ourselves into our work, so when an editor sends a rejection letter it is obvious that there is an emotional effect.

Instead of making airplanes, paper mache projects or other such creative things with your rejection letters, use them to your writing advantage. They should serve as an instrument to encourage you to sharpen your skills, tighten your writing and better your query letter.

Don’t forget that editors receive hundreds of queries for one slot and only one writer gets the assignment. So develop a healthy attitude by realizing that he will receive similar queries to yours no matter how unique you think it is. So don’t despair. Pitch to another market.

The truth is, if you are going to be a writer, then rejections will be part of your life. If you want to stop receiving rejections, then stop writing. I knew that would shake you up, it seems one of those hard and cold truths that you rather not hear.

Before I go, I would like to share with you the greatest advice from a standard rejection letter that I have received over and over again. "Best of luck in placing this elsewhere" which is encouragement to go out and do just that. Keep submitting and surely your work will be placed somewhere!

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Nadia Ali ( nadiafreelancewriter@yahoo.com) is a freelance writer who works from the comfort of her home. As a mother of two, she tries to balance the schedules of her children and writing deadlines.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

 

Mailbox Letter! From Carrie Hulce

We received the most inspiring letter from Carrie Hulce, and we just couldn't wait until our next issue came out to post it!

Honestly, this is the reason why we strive so hard to make WOW! what it is. If it were simply monetary, we'd have abandoned our mission long ago. WOW! is something greater than just us... it's about you and where you are in life. And this letter brought tears to our eyes and a big warm smile to our hearts. Thank you Carrie, and we're backing you 100%!!!

Carrie's Letter:


Hi Everyone at Wow,

I normally don't make "New Year's Resolutions;" Honestly, how many of us stick to them. But, I did set a specific goal for myself and that is to "stick to my guns" about my writing.

I have always found it difficult finding time to write. But, I am determined to surpass. I am the mother of 3 boys, one teenager of 14 almost 15 (he loves Football), one 12 about to be 13 (an almost teenager, YIKES), and a soccer buff of a 10 year old who will soon be 11. Now mind you two of my children -- the actual teenager and the youngest have a lot of activities constantly going on where I am having to run them around for their sports. (What is a mother to do???) I found I spent a lot of time behind the wheel of my car and no real time for much of anything else.

I have been writing for many years. I've taken classes, the works, to improve my writing skills. Even though I have done so, I have fallen short on myself. There has been one thing holding me back: A drawer filled with rejection letters. NOT ANY MORE! I am taking back my writing. Instead of letting those letters get to me, which I have now thrown away, I am listening to my co-workers, friends and relatives who have told me that I have a skill to use, picking up my pen. :) Well, the pen and the almighty keyboard is raised and working.

Thank goodness for Winter break and well sorry to say surgery on my knee, I found WOW! I am so happy I did, your website, since I have been laid up, has helped inspire me to write more. I am now setting appointments with myself to write, research, do anything I can for my writing. I am looking forward to entering in my first contest with WOW! and hope to continue to enter contests through your site. Big HUGS! to all of your staff for their hard work and dedication to the ART of writing. I commend each of you for the fabulous job you have done with this site. :)

Sincerely,

Carrie Hulce
New Reader of WOW!

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Dear Carrie,

Your letter has inspired us in so many ways and on so many levels!

When Beryl and I (Angela) read your letter, it brought tears to our eyes... sincerely. To think of all the things you, as a dedicated mother, are going through -- Wonder Woman comes to mind! You represent the spirit and soul of WOW! and we are thrilled you've joined our family of writing women!

We're sorry to hear about your knee surgery, and we wish you a quick recovery. I know how devastating that can be... my husband had one last year. So, while you spend your time laid up, we'd like to do something special for you. We're sending you a personal e-mail to get your mailing address, and sending you out a gift-pack of treats, goodies, and brain-food to help you through your time of recovery and re-birth into the writing world! We want to give you everything you need to recharge, re-energize, and meet your personal writing goals for the New Year!

All of us writers have received rejection slips, and we know they are painful, because writing comes from the heart. Some of us choose to paper the walls with them and some of us shred them into tiny pieces for our kid's hamster cages... but whatever the case, we've all been there and will continue to be there; it's part of the writing process. But keeping that in mind, we try to take a different approach at WOW! -- one of encouragement and growth. We all know that each one of us has something to share, whether it's a feeling or a story, something to write about, to pass down, to communicate with others who relate or enjoy our views, get moved or shocked by them, or saddened... and that's what we're here for -- that experience that helps us to understand one another as women and writers. We ALL have it in us! Now we need to shine!

Carrie, that's what you've done in your letter. You've shined. You've shared your heart and soul and we commend you for it, and thank you. You've made us laugh and shed a tear, and we're rooting for you, as I'm sure all of our readers are. Keep going and don't ever lose sight of your goals. We KNOW you can do it!

Warmly yours,

Angela & Beryl

Your new friend, and Editors of WOW! Women On Writing

PS. ~* BIG HUGS *~ Keep that almighty pen raised high and that keyboard tapping!

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