Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chasing Your Dream--With a Little Help from Your Writing Buddies and Ice Cream

Ten minutes after Viviane Lwin, a member of my SCBWI writing group, sent out a picture book manuscript she sent a SOS email to several of us:

"I finally started submitting my picture book.  I'm so stressed!

"Do you get stressed when submitting stuff?  I guess now I just have to wait 6 weeks to 6 months for responses.... if they send any."

Two members of our critique group responded with honest and helpful answers. I thought their encouragement might help other writers who feel similar anxiety, so here is their advice:

First, from Carolyn Abiad
Having once lived in Turkey, Carolyn loves writing about eastern culture and myth. While her last name translates to “Snow White,” she has not yet written a memoir featuring an evil stepmother.

"Submission is a raw topic for me right now, but I understand exactly what you’re feeling. This horrible waiting period is when I go into deep cleaning mode to organize the only thing I can, which is my house. There is no other way I know to deal with the stress. You might have another method, but the idea is to keep busy.

"Your path might be different than mine because you write picture books, but I don’t think any of us are untouched by rejection. Some thoughts:

"I remember the response to my first queries - form replies, no responses at all. That lack of feedback was frustrating, but it was a nut I wanted to crack. I rewrote the query (multiple times) and kept at it. You’ll keep at it.

"The other day a friend of mine got her first partial request. She was jumping up and down, and I remembered my first partial. I’ve had other requests since, but that first one is special. Your first request will be special too.

"Rejections on full requests were (are) THE worst thing. I got comments like “this is better than x”, but never “I’ll call you”. I was tired of hearing “not right for us, but someone else might feel differently.”

"I put my manuscript in the drawer for a while, attended some workshops, threw myself into a different story. Then I rewrote the djinn manuscript and sent out five more queries. You’ll keep sending more queries.

"My first Revise & Resubmit request gave me some hope. I rewrote and sent out five more queries. I submitted to contests too. The manuscript made it into the second round of Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013, but didn’t get to the quarter-finals. My manuscript didn’t earn me any scholarships, but I’m not sure commercial fiction ever does. (Still trying!)

"Right now I’m in the waiting game on my tenth full request.
The story has been revised or edited each of those ten times, and probably four more before I even submitted my first query. I barely recognize my first draft, but I keep it to remind myself of where I started because when the rejections come in… Let’s just say I understand Hemingway's demons.

"I haven’t even started to query the second story, and I still have no idea if the djinn story will ever go anywhere.
I do know two things:

1) I’m happy when I’m writing, even with painful rejection close at my heels.
2) If I want to share my stories, I have to keep trying.


And from Dorothy Price:
Dorothy is a mompreneur, editor, former high school English teacher and aspiring children's author. One of her YA short stories won the June 2012 Mommy Authors short story contest. 

"You actually sent this at the perfect time. I've gotten two rejections in the past week, and one no response, which means, that one too, was a rejection. The fact that I'm getting personal repsonses though lets me know I have come a long way. 

"Like Carolyn, the fact that EVERY writer gets rejected is what keeps me going. I read about famous authors and people I admire in general to keep me sane because they all traveled down the same rejected road(s) as me. 

"Since I do have so many PB ideas/unfinished stories, I move on to the next one(s) while I wait to hear back about the one on submission. 

"It's rough and very, very stressful, but if we're doing everything we can do, that's all we can do!

"Oh yeah, and when all else fails...Cold Stone ice cream sure takes the stress away, too :-) 
So, Viviane, what's the moral of the story? Use your critique group to hone your story, send out your best work possible, and then go eat ice cream!

By the way, Carolyn has an awesome giveaway going on her blog this week. Hurry over to win a copy of  the ARC of Corneila Funke's new book, Fearless. 


Carolyn Abiad said...

Thanks for posting this, Carol.
That email response came from my heart, and writing it eased some of my frustration. Hopefully, it will help someone else feel better about their journey too.

Linda Phillips said...

Thanks, Carol, for this reminder of how humbling rejections are. And we've all been through it multiple times, but I like to think we emerge a stronger writer after each of those times.

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Thanks for the reminder to serve myself some ice cream. And I'm not even submitting right now. I think if I were I would be just plain relieved.

Carol Baldwin said...

Carolyn- I know it came from your heart and I know that one day, I'm going to be rereading this and remembering your wonderful advice. It is sooo hard not to take rejection personally. And yes, Linda, it is very humbling too. And Joyce, I know that you know the pleasure of acceptance and the pain of rejections. It's not easy being a writer--but we can't help ourselves! It's in our blood.

Jean said...

Thanks, ladies. Yes, rejection hurts! The first time, and the 100th time.

Thanks for the reminders - keep busy - and eat ice cream!


Janelle said...

Great responses and an encouraging post.

Thanks for sharing it, Carol!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Jean & Janelle. Glad it was helpful to you.

Southpaw said...

Such great responses in a time of need. :)

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Southpaw, for visiting my blog!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
Rejection is indeed a difficult thing to master handling it gracefully.

Each time I say each submission I make is getting better and better.

Thanks for always encouraging us.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Joan. I totally agree!!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Good post, Carol, and some wonderful tips!
When I first started sending things out, I was too excited to be stressed. Then when the rejections came in, that was a different story. But then I kept writing (which all the pros advise), and I have gotten some stories published and an agent for my middle grade mystery, which is definitely encouraging. For me, the best way to not get stressed about it is to keep writing and keep meeting with my critique group.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you Elizabeth, by stopping by and leaving a comment. IT is very easy to be stressed and it is MOST important to keep on writing!

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