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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Painful Rejection

My novel-writing-friend (NWF) recently had a partial manuscript rejected by another agent. A particularly painful bruise, NWF revealed that he's received almost 30-plus agency rejections for this project over the last two and a half years. NWF has never taken rejection well, and I've often had the thought that he's just not cut out for the constant rejection that comes with being a writer.

So how do I bolster him?

I've tried to reassure him that this rejection does not bear on his writing, and that it does not bear on his book. I tell him that it's all just subjective.

There are two important things I try to impart to him:

1.) SELF-EVALUATE - Instead of feeling like you're shit, your writing is shit, and the entire book was a waste of time, focus on what you have learned. How has your writing improved? This is particularly true of first-time novelists. What do you know about writing a novel that you didn't know before you started? What do you know about querying agents?

I think if you take the time to really answer those questions, you'll be surprised how important it was to have that experience - whether your book sells or not.

2.) THINK OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LONG TERM - Becoming an author is not a sprint. It's an extremely long term goal, and if you can't handle the idea that you may not get published for a very long time, then perhaps a writing career isn't for you.

Writing is filled with rejection and self-doubt. There are few rewards. There's less and less of an audience. When people say empty tin-sounding things like "you have to really want it" what they really mean is "you might never get it" and "wow, you can take a lot of shit."

So - ask yourself - how much shit can you take and for how long?

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