Rejections: How many is too many?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Does anyone get used to receiving a rejection letter? On the road to becoming published, we all face those dreaded rejection letters that arrive in our mailboxes or our email accounts more often than not. Each time one arrives it pounces on the old ego and shatters belief in the work just a little bit, until you can regroup, reanalyze and revise, if necessary, before sending it out again.

Last week, I listened to a teleseminar with Jack Canfield, one of the co-authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series which now number over 200 titles, and was shocked to hear that he and Mark Victor Hansen's great idea was turned down by 144 companies before Health Communications took a chance on it. One hundred and forty four rejection letters! Wow! That takes guts and fortitude and belief in the work and in themselves to keep sending it out again and again.

I was fortunate to have received only four rejections before my first book was picked up. I know I could have handled a few more but not one hundred and forty-four. Somewhere along the way I would have given up and I'm not the "giving up," kind of person.

We would do well to remember what Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible, said about rejection. She said, "Rejection doesn't mean your book is bad, it just means that the editor that will love your book doesn't live at that address." I love that!

Jack added that "rejection does not exist but in your mind. It is just a step along the way."

Here's to the process and the many steps we have to climb to reach our goals.

What do you tell yourself when another rejection arrives?

What Do I Work On Today?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Deciding which project to focus on today, is a constant challenge. When I'm at my creative peak, multiple ideas for stories other than the one I'm working on, pop in to stop the flow. I've tried grabbing a pad and jotting down the new idea, starting a whole new page to capture the thoughts, or just ignoring it. Nothing seems to work. Once the new idea was so strong, it forced me to set aside the manuscript I was working on and write an entire new story on an unrelated topic. It's as if my muse isn't happy unless I'm writing several things at once. Sometimes it's exhilarating but most often it's down right annoying.

This seems to be my problem today.

Three picture books were critiqued this morning generating great suggestions for change. And although all three are just about ready to send, they need further tweaking. Ideas for all three are rolling around in my head. But, there's also the novel manuscript that I've decided to completely revise and the next chapter from one of my critique partners. What to do? What to do?

Logic tells me to setup a schedule and complete them according to deadline even if that deadline is an artificial one. But that's the easy answer. It won't, however, stop the flow of ideas. Things could be worse. I could be hopelessly stuck in writer's block.

Am I alone? Does this happen to you? If it does, how do you handle it?

Critique Group or Collaborator Group? Crossing the line

Monday, October 4, 2010

When does a critique become a collaboration?

The wonderful critique group, of which I am a member, has been struggling with this question ever since a prospective member, who chose to go elsewhere, announced that we were too much of a collaboration group for her. Her comment shocked us into considering the possibility. Had we crossed the line?

According to Webster's Dictionary, critique is listed as "a critical analysis or evaluation of a subject, situation, literary work, etc." Collaborate, on the other hand,  means to "work together, especially in some literary, artistic or scientific manner."

In the broadest sense of the word, to collaborate would mean that we actively work together to produce each other's manuscripts. Our critique group does not do that. However, by very nature of being a critique group are we not working together, sharing opinion/s to make our manuscripts better?

What our group does do for each other includes looking for grammatical errors, confusion in plot and pacing, inconsistencies in the use of tense and POV, overuse of similar words, character description and growth, genre formatting if appropriate, story arc, endings that satisfy and I'm sure several other things I'm forgetting. And yes, we occasionally do this by showing and/or giving examples so that the writer has a reference for deciding to accept or reject the advice given.  If this can be misconstrued as collaborating then so be it.

I've come to the conclusion that we haven't crossed the line. A good critique group utilizes a little bit of both.

What do you think?

Super Sensitive/Tough as Nails

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I've done this before -- had manuscripts rejected -- so why did this one hit me so hard? I'm still trying to figure that out. I guess I just wasn't in the mood to be rejected.

Once a letter arrived, actually more like a manuscript box, from an agent to whom I had submitted a novel. It sat on my desk for four days unopened. When my husband asked why I hadn't opened it yet, I replied, "It's just a rejection and I'm not in the mood yet." You see, I need to be in a very positive state, feeling on top of the world to accept rejection intellectually with a send-it-out-again, no nonsense mentality. That didn't happen with this one. This time, I felt sucker-punched in the gut.

Maybe it was because it came so rapidly, via email; no time to sit and contemplate whether to open it or not or wait for the right moment. Maybe it was because it came on top of a flurry of emails back and forth about not having received it earlier when it had supposedly been sent. And maybe it had more to do with other stuff going on in my life at the moment.

It was one of those "super sensitive/tough as nails" moments that I always tell kids about at school visits. "Writer's need to be super sensitive to write great stories yet tough as nails to survive the getting it published process." This is not a profession for the weak.

When those "no thank you, not interested" letters pile up, they make you wonder what you're doing in this profession of rejection. And then the "yes, we love it and we want it" comes your way and you know. You were meant to write.

So how did I handle it? I shed a few tears, boo hooed to my awesome critique buddies and went for a long drive. Today the emotion is out of it and I'm ready to write again.

What's your secret for handling rejection/s?

BTW - That box that sat on my desk for four days wasn't a rejection!

Old Friends/College Roommates

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm headed to the airport to pick up three of my six college roommates. One is already here. Tomorrow we head for SC and the home of the sixth. Five years ago we got the idea that our shared past was important. We've been meeting ever since.

What that has to do with writing, I don't know right now. But through all the memories and shared laughs a story maybe lurking for kids or adults who knows?

The never knowing where the next story will come from is what makes this writer's life exciting. Books I've had published have been inspired by a newspaper article, two personal war stories, requests from teachers, a history book and an insect. So why not college roommates?

I'm looking forward to an exciting week.

What inspires you?

She's GONE! The spider that inspired me is gone!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The spider that inspired me is gone! Truly gone! Disappeared. Vanished. Poof! Was it serendipitous? Coincidence? Who can say? That little bug hung around long enough to get my manuscript moving in the right direction and as soon as I revised my spider story, that darn eight-legged arthropod just plain disappeared.

My critique group agrees that the changes made pointed my story in the right direction and with a few more edits, it will be ready to send out.

But here's another weird thing. Two days ago a web appeared across the stairway leading from one outside deck to another. It was suspended by four strands of silvery silk and in the middle was a perfect web the size and shape of a 45-record! (I'll assume you're all old enough to know what that looks like.) Does this mean I should pull out my saddle shoes, poodle skirt and pony tail scarf and start writing about the 50's?  I don't think so. But maybe.....


What inspires you? Anything as unusual as a spider?

An Insect Provides An "aha" Moment!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Some days the old creativity tank is over flowing with ideas and other times it's empty, empty, empty. It was on one of those empty days that I first noticed the spider happily building her web across the patio door; not the stationary one but the one leading to our deck. Moonlight cast its beams illuminating each silky thread of the intricate web. 

The next morning, just when I was wondering what to do about the web, I noticed the spider frantically taking it down, silky thread by silky thread. Soon, there was no indication that it had ever been. But up in the corner, the spider slept. The next night, the spider went to work again. And in the morning, she took it down again.

Meanwhile, stored in a file in my computer sat a PB manuscript about a spider who was having trouble spinning a regular web. The idea of spinning a web and removing it to do it all over again never occurred to me, until the spider began visiting my patio door.

Aha! Revision complete and better than ever...at least I think so.   

Writer's beware, even that bug on the wall can be inspiration!

 

When it's done it's done...or is it?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Are we as writers ever satisfied with our stories?

While waiting to hear from an agent who requested the entire manuscript, I'm contemplating adding to my already completed novel. Is it the wait that's triggered this insanity or unwillingness to let go of the daily hours and hours spent with my friends, the characters?

I know the next step will involve hours of editing even though I'd like to think that I'm that rare writer who writes the perfect piece, so why add more to it? What's compeling me to do this? Is it intuition or just a whim? I can ask myself the compeling questions about how it would enhance the story or is it necessary, but the question remains, do I leave it alone or start messing with it again?

I keep hoping that the agent will call saying "welcome to my client list." And then the question will be out of my hands.

Oh for the Good Old Days!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oh for the good old days when publishers did the marketing and all the writer had to do was write.

Yeah, I know books sell better when the author is willing to promote. I do a fare amount of that myself. But all this new-age technology -- twitter, facebook, blogs -- makes me wish I had a teenager in-residence who could help me navigate these faster "easier"entities.

I know, I know. When I get the hang of it I'll love it but in the meantime I have to wonder, "am I too old for all this?"

Waiting for THE Call

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Second only to rejection, the worst part of being an aspiring author is the wait. I'm waiting to hear from an agent who requested my complete 80,000 word manuscript. The first agent went out of his way to tell me that he read the entire story, loved the characters, thought they were engaging, the setting interesting, the background fascinating, but was confused about the audience. Written for adults, he pegged it a YA. Go figure! He doesn't represent YA so he passed.

Next I found an agent who represents both adult and YA. "That ought to cover it," I'm thinking. Response to my email query was returned within five minutes. "Send the entire manuscript," the response said.

"Wow!" Within a half hour of my email query, the second agent had the entire piece. It's been five weeks now with nary a word.

"Don't call us we'll call you if we're interested," the agent's agency information commands.

"Does that directive also apply to requested material?" I wonder.

I know these things take time but what's a writer to do without seeming amatureistic? For the moment the only thing she can...WAIT!

I'm Thankful for Friends that Share

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I've been working on my blog, well, learning how to work on my blog, navigating the quagmire of technology, trying to get things right. Were it not for the generosity of friends, Beth Revis, especially, I'd still be in the dark ages. There is light at the end of the tunnel and I'm grasping at craggy edges moving forward gingerly, thankful for friends that share.

Sleep On It!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Today, I awoke with an idea for a writer friend. Yes, I had recently had a discussion with her about a project she was working on but I didn't consciously decide to find a solution to her writing concerns. Even so, I awoke with an idea for her to consider. I don't know that it helped in anyway but I did pass it on.

Once again, I am reminded of how strange the mind works. Often, after struggling with something during the day, I'll awake the next morning with the solution. It makes me think the old adage, "sleep it off," is wrong. Maybe it should be "sleep it on" because it seems when the body is at rest, creativity, like the energizer bunny, keeps working on and on and on.

Now if I could just get my mind to work the keyboard while I sleep, I could write 24/7.  

Amazing How The Mind Works!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Creativity is an amazing animal flitting in and out of my brain. Why won't it just settle in and stay awhile so I can write from start to finish, no edits no problems? Instead, a story spills out at rapid speed and then sits, parts not quite right, waiting. Sometimes I'm charmed into thinking I'm finished; thinking it's ready to submit. My wonderful critique group has their way with it but still, something holds it back, holds me back from submission.

And then it hits! The aha arrives in the early morning hours. I jump out of bed knowing that the fixes for not just one but two stories have arrived, good and strong. The exact pieces I didn't know I needed slide seamlessly into place.

Now they are ready. No more excuses. Time to submit.

Charting New Waters

Monday, March 15, 2010

This is my first foray into the world of blogging and I'm feeling like a fish out of water. Help! Were it not for my good friend Gretchen and the support of a blogging class taught by Beth Revis, I'd be a bottom feeder swimming along with the halibut, catfish and flounders.

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About Me

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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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