Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Big "R"

Today I had the honor of visiting a gifted writing class for junior high and high school students at the University of Utah. They made this cool chair for me to sit in! Sorry, I just thought that was really cool. But back to topic, we're talking about rejection here at the Pulse Ro-Com blog, and how I dealt with rejection was one of the many wonderful questions I was asked today. Because I'm sure at least some of this group of enthusiastic students will become authors someday, I was sure to answer honestly and not sugar-coat the reality that I dont' know a single writer who has breezed into publication without his or her fair share--and sometimes more than their fair share--of rejections.

One of my favorite authors (and she's a really cool and beautiful person to boot) is Shannon Hale, and though I haven't actually seen this presentation of hers, she apparently has a whole collection of rejection letters that she has attached end-to-end and rolls out for everybody to see. As rumor has it, it goes on forever and ever. One of the students I hung out with today mentioned that an author she knows wallpapered her office with rejection letters, and I know of a couple of authors who've held on to each rejection and stored them in a special--and very fat--folder.

While I don't have a visual showcasing every rejection I've accumulated throughout my 6-year writing-to-become published career, I can say I've had to grow a thick skin. And with each rejection, I have to remind myself that this is an extremely subjective industry. How many times have you read something (or watched a show on TV or a movie) and thought it was amazing, yet your best friend thought it was a waste of time? Right. Same goes with all the editors (the people at publishing houses that read your book and decide whether or not it's "right" for them) and literary agents out there. Some books speak to them, move them, make them jump for joy, while others ... don't. That doesn't mean your book is bad (per se); it just means it's too similar to something they have, needs more work, or any number of legitimate reasons.

So, what I'm trying to say (I'm still trying to catch up on sleep after my overnight flight two days ago so I can only hope I'm making some sense) is that if you sit or want to sit in the "Author's Chair," you shouldn't take it personally when you get a rejection.

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