How to Deal with Rejection

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Rejection is one of the most disheartening things you can go through as a writer. You’ve expected to get some rejection but when there seems to be no success at all it can lead to feelings of self-doubt, a loss of confidence and too often an abandonment of writing all together. head-in-the-oven

But don’t lose hope.

If you get a rejection after sending your novel out only to a few agencies don’t lose heart, there could still be a chance for success with your particular novel. Ask yourself if you are sending your novel to the right people. An agency will always specify what kinds of novels they take on and there are a lot of agencies out there that only deal with very specific genres. It seems pretty simple but I know a lot of authors who have sent out their romance novels to agents who only deal with Science Fiction.

The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook is the best place to get information about agencies, but you could always check the website. Every agency has information about their clients online and often have a little info about the specific genres they accept. It is also important to check whether or not your chosen agency is currently accepting new clients. If they are not accepting new clients then it is a waste of your time and theirs to send them your work.

Do not demand to know why your novel was rejected. An agent will remember an aggressive writer and will not take you on if they think the relationship will be a difficult one. Also, they will tell their friends (other agents) about you so you will instantly limit your chances of getting an agent in the future. Be pleasant and polite and always maintain your professionalism even if you have a particularly cruel rejection.

Ask yourself if your work is truly at its best. How long did you spend working on it? Did you edit it fully? Did you check for continuity? If there is any doubt about the standard of your work then you should put the manuscript away for three to six months and then check it over with fresh eyes. If you have been working on or editing your novel for a long time you could be in danger of memorising it. When an author memorises their work they will not be able to see if there is anything wrong with it. All the words fit well because they have read it that way too many times to see them any differently.

If you have repeated rejections the most important thing to remember is that it is your novel that has been rejected, not you. I cannot stress how important it is to move on from something that doesn’t work so you can produce something that does. I know many writers who have had success not after their first or second novels but after their second, third or fourth novels. What this tells us is that these writers are perfectly capable and talented, but didn’t happen to have the right novel at the right time.

Remember that there is always a certain amount of failure in writing. It’s important that you see rejection not as a huge roadblock but as another step forward in the creative process. We need to know what works and what doesn’t to be able to write better, and for that there always needs to be a certain amount of rejection. If you have had any constructive criticism along with your rejection letter or email then keep it, use it; it’s valuable to you because it is written by someone with knowledge and tailored to you and your novel specifically.

Finally, remember that if you have been rejected it doesn’t mean that you have failed as a writer. Have the courage and determination and drive to keep going because the only true failure is in giving up all together.

Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.

-Samuel Beckett

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Why you should start saying ‘I AM’ instead of ‘I WANT TO BE.’

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Think back to when you were a child. You were playing. Or you were trying to suck the ink out of a pen. Or you were staring at your shoes beneath your desk when a large, grown-up teacher stood in front of the class and asked you a question you will be trying to answer for the rest of your life.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

You don’t know. You’d never thought about it until then. Shouldn’t you pick an occupation quickly so you don’t feel too embarrassed or too left out when all the other kids shout ‘nurse’ or ‘doctor’ or ‘vet.’

You shout ‘doctor,’ and you feel relief. You can relax for thirteen more years.

When you get older things are different. What you think you want to do is picked apart like a dead rat. Suddenly there are all these factors to consider. Exam results. Tuition costs. Job opportunities. Security. Time. Pressure. University league tables. Parental and peer advice. All the rest. All the effort. Spitting in our heads. The constant tick tock of the young and undecided.

So we decide. We pick right. We pick wrong. School has ended. The teachers have all retired, moved to France or smoked themselves to death. We are not children anymore. The world has grown up around us and we are so much smaller than we used to be.

Nine times out of ten the thing you picked, or the thing that picked you, isn’t the thing you really wanted to do. It’s something you ended up doing for reasons only you can answer. Maybe it was the easy choice. You can’t fail at the easy choice. Maybe it was the money choice. I love money, don’t you? You are a brilliant marketing assistant, coffee shop barista, library assistant, shop assistant, caring professional, data entry clerk, CEO of a multi-national corporation and that’s fine – if that is who you are.

If someone you’ve never met walked up to you, introduced themselves and asked ‘what do you do?’ your answer would probably be whatever it says on the top of your wage slip. But if someone came up to you and said ‘who are you?’ instead – what would your answer be?

I’m not talking about names. If someone asked me who I was I would instinctively say ‘Well my name is Laurie.’ What I’m talking about is something deeper than that. I’m talking about how you want the world to see you. I’m talking about what you should have decided when you were six and you shouted out ‘doctor’ when you should have shouted out…

What? What is that thing? Who are you? Really?

You ask yourself the question. You begin to think outside of your situation and outside of that damn first name your parents gave you when they were short of time and ideas. Instead of thinking about what you do, what you would like to do one day, what you hope to do if only you had the courage or the confidence or if all of those little ducks were lined up in a neat little row, you begin to think about who you are – and you shoot those stupid ducks.

Something amazing happens. Instead of becoming your dead end job like you always feared you would, you become the thing that you’ve always wanted to be. You’re not a shop assistant you’re a writer. So you write. You’re not a Supervisor in a Cash Converter you’re an Actor. So you act. You’re not a Lab Assistant you’re an Artist. So you paint. You’re not an IT Consultant you design and build Aquariums. So you design, you build, and you become.

You become less lazy, less concerned with what the world thinks of your dreams. You raise your dreams up and you armor them. You have confidence because that’s who you are. You do everyday what you should’ve been doing all along and all it took was for you to forget about society’s question and ask your own.

Do yourself a favour.

Ask the question.

Answer the question.

I am a writer.

Tell me who you are.

For Girls and Grief | Abigail Staub

This is wonderful.

VAGABOND CITY

The first girl I ever kissed had a mouthful of luring words and veins full of Percocet.
I wore the potent perfume of pineapple vodka on my breath and wilted forward into her lap,
all curled up at the edges like a water-logged book.
We were perched on the end of a leather couch in someone’s basement and the television flickered and buzzed to mask the
piercing pounding of my heartbeat against the rib cage.
Her voice lilted softly in my ear, “Do you want to kiss me or not?” but my skinned, purple knees quivered as I questioned what people would think
when they saw me tangled up in the limbs of some Venus,
and not softly swallowing the saliva of a sweaty, calloused boy.
That was how it was supposed to be,
when you were sixteen with red lips and black stockings,
slurring empty proverbs to strangers.
Still, I…

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On Not Blogging for Over Two Years and Abandoning my Novel. 

Many writers like myself read motivational quotes as a reasurrance that we are all doing the right thing. Going in the right direction. Writing fine and well. Doing exactly what the world’s best authors do in the hope that we can somehow become just like them. The quotes we read often say the same thing: read and write often. So we do. What they never say is: read and write often and remember to update your blog and Twitter feed while finding out what’s trending on Twitter. 

I stepped away from social media for a while for a few reasons. I wanted to finish my MA in creative writing, I wanted to find out who I was as an author so I could feel comfortable talking about myself a little more, and I wanted to find out if I had anything valuable to say. 

I made a painful but necessary decision to abandon the book I had been working on for over two years. It received very little interest from agencies and it was clear that it wasn’t going to work for anyone. I think this was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made. 

After abandoning my first novel I began another. I decided to write something completely different. I think this was necessary in order for me to mature as a writer. I began my second novel and the difference in the quality of the writing was astounding. In abandoning the first novel and admitting to myself that it wasn’t working I had made a huge leap forward in my career, and a year after beginning my novel I received the greatest news of my career. 

My new novel gained representation by a literary agency. 

It’s obvious. Abandoning my first novel was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my writing career. My life has changed dramatically over the last two years and I have never been so self assured. I find that I do have something to say. This blog will be updated regularly as I work through the next stage of my writing career, and will hopefully give other people out there the inspiration they need to keep going, even if it means starting from the beginning.