Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ONE DAY I’LL PAPER THIS ROOM

At some point, we’ve all said it.
I mean to do it. The day I receive a contract to publish one of my novels, I am going to paper my office with the rejections. And since I have such a large stockpile of “paper”, I can be discriminating.

:( I’ve kept the rejections in binders. :(

That way, I can go back and (torture myself), no, read the encouraging notes, which helped me, as well as the form letters which did little to "form" me on my path to publication. They came in an array of sizes, shapes, and colors.

Now, years later, working as an editorial assistant to Terry Burns, my agent, I begin to understand why and how the rejections are given out. Many writers, just like myself, are so close for so long. Just a bit more work and the novel would be accepted, but in our haste to “get the next bestseller out there” we cut corners, don’t study the craft sufficiently, don’t wait for the right moment to approach an agent or editor. And, unfortunately, burn a lot of bridges in the process.

Just like sadness is the only way to understand joy, rejection is the only way to appreciate acceptance. If it were handed to us on the proverbial silver platter, would we be grateful for the gift or merely nurse a feeling of entitlement?

Ahem, I know myself. Had I been published years ago, I would never have honed my craft and been able to help others do the same. Plus, I would have put 400 pages of garbage into a book which would no doubt have eventually found itself on the shelves of some dollar or .99 store.

But you’re convinced your baby is ready to walk. “Mom said it was the best story she’d ever read!” Of course she did. She’s mom. But an agent or editor doesn’t give a flying rat’s patoot what mom, or Aunt Jenny, or Uncle Jebb, or even the crotchety neighbor next door thinks. They KNOW what the public is reading, and what the public expects. They don’t tell you these things to hurt your feelings (okay, I know a couple who might) but rather, to lift you up to a point where you will work harder at your craft to be able to bring it into the public arena one day.

The hardest lesson God has been trying to teach me for 60 years (yes, I said sixty!) is to have patience. I know you don't want to hear this, but God’s timing isn’t always our timing. Even when we’re in panic mode, He’s looking at the Big Picture, not the grain of sand we call life.

Well, I’m preaching to the choir, folks, as I pick out which of the lovely shades of recycled gray, green, or blue to use on the north wall, just behind the computer. After all, that’s the one I’ll be looking at the most often when I sit down to write, rewrite, and rewrite some more.

Good luck, may God’s blessings pour over your work, but ‘til they do, remember, in your patience, you’re learning something wonderful.

And isn’t that what life is all about?
LEARNING!

9 comments:

  1. One of my worst rejection letters may turn out to be one of my best. It said "the writing is not as well crafted as it needs to be for the adult fiction line we're developing." OUCH.

    After I calmed down, I realized he was right. I had had a gut feeling that the beginning of the book wasn't as strong as it could be but I thought it was "good enough." After that rejection letter, I went back and did what I should have done in the first place--I stopped being nice to my protagonist. I think it is a much better book now.

    Time to see if a publisher agrees . . .

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  2. Oh, Kathryn, I do understand. It's so hard when someone tells us our "baby" isn't perfect. Can you imagine the audacity? But, of course, they are usually right. Rejection is so hurtful, but if used and addressed properly, can be so helpful. Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Growing pains hurt, but we'd rather go through the growing pains and be taller than the 20 inches or so we started at. Rejections hurt, but they sure do help us grow!

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  4. Alas, while it's true, it doesn't stop the hurt. Been there so many times my bitter button took too many hits. God had to reel me in and start the lesson over. SIGH...

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  5. I am constantly trying to remind myself it's the journey and it's what God is teaching me today that's most important. Hard work, this character-training stuff! :-) Great post!

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  6. Thanks, Linda, for reminding me of why God has us wait sometimes. Of course I want to be published, but even more, I really want it to be in His perfect timing.

    He hasn't called me out of writing yet, so I keep plugging along!

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  7. Linda, you hit the nail right on the head. When I look back (read: cringe)at some of the stuff I thought was so wonderful when I first started out, I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or hide in my closet in shame and embarrassment. God seems to be taking His time in teaching me all the lessons I need in order to have something worthwhile to say in my writing, but His timing is perfect. Meanwhile, I'm studying the craft and not giving up. Thanks for a great post!

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  8. If He was gonna make us wait so much, why didn't he make waiting a little easier? Hmmm.

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  9. Linda,

    In answer to the last two questions, yes and yes. I've done much waiting in my life. Father has taught me to do that, and He has taught me in the doing.

    Write on, sis!

    Because of Christ,
    Sharon

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