Archive for July 9th, 2010

Rejections, criticism you know the drill.  As a writer, so much of the feedback you get is subjective.  You need to believe in your craft and not get sidetracked by the endless onslaught of opinions.  Even from editors.  Take what you feel is valid, disregard the rest.  Learn and improve yourself by all means, but never allow it to deflate your sense of worth or your motivation.

But that doesn’t stop it from smarting the way they do, does it?

If you ask any string player (violin, guitar, cello), they’ll all tell you the importance of callouses.  Especially cellists.  We use our left thumb to hold down two strings at a time.  And without a nice, thick thumb callous it REALLY hurts.  But with enough consistent practice, and playing, that thick pad of skin develops and you can play for hours without feeling any pain.  In fact, the thicker it gets, the better you can hold down the strings.

I’m thinking that as writers, we need to be like cellists and develop a head callous.  Okay maybe not a “head-callous” (thick-headed? I don’t think so.)  But maybe we need a heart-callous that we can put on like SWAT armor, kevlar, so that when the rejections come, we can take them, feel them a bit, but just go on doing our jobs.

We all know that we need thick skins to be writers.  So like a cellist’s thumb callous, the thicker the better.  It’s not just for protecting from the pain of the strings, but it’s primarily for better performance.  (Though the protection is a needed byproduct.)

I still remind myself about Dean Koontz’s 75 rejections before making his second sale ever. 

Now look at him.

Another thing all writers need:  Persistence!  Think how much persistence it takes for a salmon to return to its spawning grounds. We writers are nothing if we don’t spawn (stories, books, etc.,) right?  And sometimes, it sure feels like the journey of a thousand miles.  For the Pacific Salmon, spawning is the final act of their life cycle.  And it does feel that way too.  But remember, as a writer, your work lives on immortal. 

And you are not a fish, you’re a Phoenix.  Though writing and getting rejections over and over very well feels like it’s becoming the last act of your life, you will rise from the fiery pyre more powerful than ever, and live again.

Write again.

Send it out again.

And sell again.

You’re almost there!  Don’t give up!

The night seems darkest before the break of dawn.

That’s it for the pep talk.  Go on and file away those rejection letters (or burn them if that helps) and write the next story or book.  If you keep going, keep learning, eventually you’ll sell.

The only failure is to stop trying.

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