I heard Kristi Holl speak today at a SCBWI meeting on Publishing 101. She covered a lot of great points inside that giant behemoth of a topic. One that really stuck with me was the reality of rejection in your writing. If you are publishing, you are also getting rejected. Somehow, in my head, I was imagining that once you sold your first book, things got easier and you had fewer rejections after that. Maybe you do get fewer. But you still get rejected.
In some ways, I guess hearing that could be depressing, but in others, it's pretty freeing. I can stop worrying about IF I'll get rejected and just prepare for different ways of dealing with it and not take it all so hard when I do. I've gotten rejections now and then with assessment work, but really, percentage-wise, it's a lot less than I might have thought. But writing for magazines and writing books is an entirely different world.
Several months ago, I made a 100's chart sort of like the one in the link, the kind kids use to learn math. I decided my goal would be to fill up that chart with rejections and I'd mark off one number for each rejection. I'm in the teens now, I think, and that includes magazine submissions and queries on books. Somehow, having a system in place in which I get to treat myself after I fill in a new row of rejections makes it less…abhorrent. I still am sad and hurt with each one-- and I'm beginning to accept that it's not because I'm a super sensitive person, but because I'm HUMAN. But…it also takes a bit of the sting off to know I'm working towards another goal. Because secretly, of course, my hope is that if I submit enough and KEEP AT IT, then maybe one day, my work will reach the right person! It surely won't be published if it's stays on my desk.
Kristi pointed out that everyone gets rejected, but not many people talk about it. At least not at the time. Stephen King tells about the giant stack of rejections he had staked to his wall, but given that he's, well, Stephen King, that's only moderately helpful for me to read. It helped a lot to hear that Kristi had something like 30 rejections before she sold her first article to a magazine. She's since published 39 books for children and makes her living as a writer, teacher and speaker. That's tough to do -- and she swears that persistence will trump talent every time when it comes to who gets published.
So…I'm going to be persistent. Even when I get rejected. I'll keep on writing. I encourage you to do the same!
PS-- Good timing on hearing this talk today: guess what I got in the mail? Yep, a rejection. Off to go mark off another X on my chart.