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Row80 Check In 12-11-11: Learning from Disappointment

Image courtesy Bo's Café Life.

Rejections hurt. I’m not going to lie. INTO THE DARK is still out with several e-publishers, and it will be a while before I hear from them, but I’ve gotten responses back from a few of the agents I’ve queried. Some were personal, some were form. Some had pages attached, some didn’t. All were polite and respectful. Every single one hurt.

Rationally, I know these aren’t a reflection on me personally. Publishing is a business. Agents have their reasons. Rejection is a part of life. But the emotional side of me wants to crawl into bed and cry every time one pops up in my email. And then the second guessing starts. Should I have edited as much as I did? I’m writing suspense, so I tried to strike a balance between pace and characterization. Did I make the wrong choice? Should I go back in and work on the beginning yet again? And the e-publishers already have it…

Thank God for good friends to give me a much needed calming slap and a foot up my butt. I’ve done the best I can with INTO THE DARK. Yes, an editor will make it better, but I’ve got to hope for that chance and move on. The only control I have over rejections is to use them as fuel to make my writing stronger. When I do get editorial feedback, I need to accept it graciously and learn. For now, I have to leave Dark be and see what happens.

So after my amazing friends listened to my whining, I got back on track. I went back to writing on THE PROPHET and came up with an opening I’m really happy with. I already think the writing is better than INTO THE DARK, but then again, I’m so close to that book I can’t see it clearly anymore. I also wrote another 750 words in a scene I’ve been struggling with and finally feel I’m on track with the new manuscript. I remembered why I was so excited about it and more importantly, I’m looking forward to writing.

“You always believe in other people, but that’s easy. Sooner or later, you have to believe in yourself, too. Because that’s what growing up is. It’s becoming who you want to be.”
–Jason Segel, The Muppets Movie.

So my goal for this week is simple: write. I want to reach turning point one of THE PROPHET by next Sunday.

For those of you that didn’t win NaNo or didn’t participate, check out #NaNoSlackMo, created by the always inspiring Jenny Hansen. The goal is to write 25K this month, but I think getting your butt in the chair and writing as much as possible works, too.

Do you know how many times James Joyce’s Dubliners was rejected? Hint: more than 20.

How’s your week going? Are you finishing Row80 strong?


31 comments on… “Row80 Check In 12-11-11: Learning from Disappointment”

  1. This week was a strong and busy one for me. I’m so sorry to hear about the rejections. They do hurt, but we writers are resilient. We bounce. My suggestion: work on the Prophet for awhile. Dive into other projects and put Into the Darkness aside for a bit, maybe a month or so, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Maybe you’ll see something you don’t see now.

    Good luck with your writing and keep your chin up. You’ve got a lot on your plate. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Believe in yourself and know you will someday be published. You can’t give up or stop believing in your dream.

    • I’m glad you had a great week! Those are tough to come by as the holiday closes in.

      I can’t say I didn’t expect the rejections. After all, most submit to many, many agents before getting one. But they hurt more than I thought they would. And thank you for the suggestion – that’s exactly what I’m doing. At this point, I’m too close to Dark to see anything I could change. I’m going to leave it until sometime in January and then see where I’m at. Should be hearing from e-publishers then.

      Thanks so much for the kind words. They’re much appreciated!

  2. Rejectiion is tough, at first. This is one of the reasons why writers of my generation emphasized writing a certain amount of short fiction — then you always have a bunch of things out in the mail, always have hope, and sometimes you become eager to get a rejection so you can send the story someplace else, or maybe send that editor a new story.

    We used to aim for 100 rejections as a marker of progress. (We’d say that editors secretly kept track and wouldn’t publish you until you got to 100.)

    • Wow! 100 rejections? That would be tough to push through. I wish I could write short fiction. I’d love to have a few things out, but shorts are just something I could never quite master.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Oh, I know rejections hurt. I’ve been on submission too. Though, I’m trying to forget about it and focus on a next project …
    I’m trying to glue my butt on my chair and write … but, as you know from my post, I’m having troubles with it lol
    Anyway … hope the next is better for you, and for me too! LOL

    • It’s good to know someone else is in the same position. Being on submission is definitely a roller coaster. Focusing on the next project is the best way as long as we can manage that.

      I know…getting the butt in the chair is easier said than done. I’m especially skilled at finding distractions.

      Thanks, you too!

  4. Yeah, rejections are hard. I always aimed for the 20-rejection mark when sending my stuff out. I did get used to them, though, and they didn’t hurt as much the more I got. Still, I think it’s a great experience and kudos to you for jumping in and taking it on!

    • 20 is a good number. I sent to about 10 agents and several e-publishers. Have a few still out to agents. Haven’t heard from the request on the full or partial yet, so there’s still hope for those. Still, it’s hard to focus on the good instead of the bad.


  5. Ryan King

    Rejection suck for sure. But in a strange sort of way, I like them. I aim to fill my wall above my desk with them. It shows that I’m doing something. Even the e-rejections I print out and put up. Don’t take them personally. Keep trying!

    • That’s a good attitude to have Ryan. I’ve heard other authors print them out, too. I might steal that idea. Nothing good is ever easy, and we have to take our knocks. Thanks!

  6. Sorry about the rejections. I think you’re handling them right, even if they sting, by trying to learn from them. And what a great quote to support that.

    Best of luck with the upcoming week!

    • Thank you. Taking the high road is really tough. I admit on Thursday I stopped mid-word and didn’t write for about 24 hours. Hit me hard for some reason.

      I loved that quote from the movie, too. Put a lot of things in perspective for me. Thanks!

  7. I always thought I was ready for the rejections, and perhaps mentally, I was. Emotionally, each one is a knife in the heart.

    Just let yourself feel what you need to feel, and move on when you’re ready. It’s okay to take a day or two – or ten – to let yourself be sad about it.

    I do have an agent, but am not yet formally published. One thing I found funny, was one day I got TWO publisher rejections. One editor loved the characters, but thought the plot was much too thin. The other editor loved the plot, but thought the characters were underdeveloped. It gave me a good laugh, but also gave me nowhere to go re: fixing the silly thing. Just know that most of us have been there, and we do know how very much it hurts. Yet, we write on.

    • Oh Beverly, so damned true. Whether they’re rejecting just a query or one with pages attached, a knife in the heart is right. Thanks for understanding.

      ANd you know what, your rejection story is such a great example of publishing. Yes, there are rules and craft to learn, but it still comes down to subjectivity. That’s a story to remember with the next rejection I get. Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. I was reading somewhere that a particularly famous author received over 700 rejections because the number was so high I have now forgotten the name of the author. In a way, I look forward to the rejection stage because then that means I have a completed manuscript that has been edited and is something to be proud of.

    As for James Joyce I don’t know the answer. I could Google it, but I think that would be cheating. Sooo I’m going to go with…..54?

    As for the second photo, LOL, that is “Red” from “That 70’s Show”. LOVE it. 🙂

    • Nope, much less than that. Wow, 700? Can you imagine going through that? I can’t even fathom finding 700 agents/publishers TO query. Kudos to that author (and countless others) for sticking with it.

      Yep, loved Red. He made that show!

  9. Stacy, try not to let the rejections get you down. Send out some new queries and move on. Don’t stress.

    I went away for the weekend and before I left I got ahead on my To Do List for the week, so I’m happy about that. It should mean more time to finish transferring my revisions from hard copy to screen and getting on with plotting my new MS.

    • Thanks so much for the advice, Kelly. It’s great to hear from someone who’s been there.

      Great job on getting ahead on your To Do List and creating time for your new MS. That’s wonderful. Good luck!

  10. Writers–the successful ones anyway–have a bit of masochism in their makeup. Why else would we continue to go back to the publishing well and ASK for others to swat our babies upside the ass-terick? *s*

    You’re in brilliant company. I’ve nothing more to add that hasn’t already been said. Keep on keeping on. The best revenge for a rejection, after all, is success.

    • That’s so true, Amy. And I love that analogy – swat our babies upside the ass-terick! Thanks so much for the comment and encouragement:)

  11. This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address. Barbara Kingsolver
    I really love that quote. Hope it helps put things in perspective for you, stacy. 🙂

    • Thank you. Fortunately I haven’t had a rejection from an editor yet. Those who asked for partials and full still have them. Rejections have come from agents, but some have had five pages. But I love your way of thinking – the wrong address for the editor who can appreciate my work. It definitely helps. Thank you!

  12. heatherishither

    Keep your head up! I haven’t dealt with any rejection (or submission) but can imagine how it must suck.

  13. When I got my first rejection, I was dejected for a bit. Then I realized, “Hey, I’m on my way to being a published author! This is what writers do – send in their work and get rejected over and over until they don’t.” Still, you want to send out your best work, so it can be easy to second-guess your writing choices. Best wishes with the news. Hope you get a great answer very soon!

    • Very positive way of thinking, Julie. Rejections ARE a part of the process. And second guessing is something I would do regardless, so it’s just something I need to accept. Thanks for commenting:)

  14. Oh Stacy, I can only imagine how hard it is to take but like everyone says, it also means you are well on your way to become a published author. Part of the badge of honor. 🙂
    Hang in there. I think focusing on what you can control, sinking your teeth into The Prophet will keep you motivated and enthused.
    Sending you a big virtual hug!

    • Thanks, Natalie. Big hugs back:) I just have to learn to roll with the punches, and you’re right, treat the rejections as a badge of honor.

  15. hate them but I know we have to collect them so we can wallpaper our rooms:) it seems like many of the greats were being rejected for years and they prob. didn’t have ROW80s to encourage them – chin up and stride forth

    all the best for this week

    • Sorry, somehow this ended up in my spam folder. Thanks so much for the comment and encouragement. Having an online support system makes a huge difference.

  16. Pingback: Manic Monday: Glovers for Lovers | Stacy Green – Turning The Page

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