Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How a rejection and a screwed up ending are good

Happy Wednesday all!

I was thinking about various stages of a writer's life-not career, but life.

We're excited when we first sit down to create something out of nothing. I still recall a bit from my first "attempt" at a book when I was 13. The section I remember had to do with the brother of my character stubbing his toe on his surfboard in the hall. I don't recall much about the story and since I never got very far I'm not surprised. Mostly I just had an urge to see what I could create. Sort of like picking up some paints and playing. It was cool to see my ideas typed out though...but then boys came along and I moved on.

A few years later, I had an idea for a story. A real one this time-LOL. I LOVED seeing my words in type! (Yes a typewriter folks-- young ones, get your folks to explain it to you ;)). I was still very excited, but very distracted. I don’t think anyone outside of my family knew what I was doing. It wasn’t a secret per se- it just wasn’t something that came up while chasing guys ;) (Yes there was a trend in my youth ;)). This book, a SF adventure with a lead character named Vaslisha Tor Dain (I stole her name years later for the Warrior Wench- although is it stealing if you stole from yourself?) was fun…but I lost interest after about 175 pages. Always meant to go back to it, but never did.

Still more years later (we don’t need to discuss the numbers here ;)) I started Essence of Chaos. A fantasy trilogy of full geek standing, and I was more self conscious this time. I found I wrote better by hand and cranked out an over 700 page first draft. I still recall when I typed “The End” on that massive beast. It felt so flipping good! Some close friends knew what I was doing, and as I started on book two, I told more. I did some editing, got book one typed into a computer, and sent out for a round of rejections. It was still too dang big. Emotionally, I was sorta self conscious about writing. I didn’t know any other writers and it just felt like my friends humored me. Went back to school to get my Master’s degree- sat the writing aside.

A few years ago I started working at SDSU. My writing was mostly just poking at the Essence of Chaos with a stick from time to time, and shleping around some short stories. I had lunch with one of my co-workers who I didn’t know very well yet and somehow we got to talking about books, and writing. I told her I wrote and she didn’t mock me or pat me on the head. She wanted to READ IT. My friend (waves to Sandi Jordan) rekindled my interest in my books and my writing as she went through the first book. Talking with her about characters, plot, etc got me ready to write something new. I joined the RWA to get in touch with more writers (since there isn’t a similar group for SF/F writers). Soon Warrior Wench ( SF), The Glass Gargoyle of the Last Elven King (light fantasy), and A Curious Invasion (steampunk) were born.

Emboldened by my dear friend Sandi, and my new friends in the RWA, I hit the rejection circuit again. All the while still working on new projects. Last year I didn’t submit at all to give myself time to work on my craft (and finish two and a half of the above named books).

Now I’m editing, working on yet another project (The Four Dragons of the Apocalypse), and submitting. Two recent events told me I’d moved into another writing stage. First, I met this great agent at the RT convention. He doesn’t take my genre, but really liked the Glass Gargoyle story and wanted to see it (I was on cloud nine lemme tell ya!). He was a very cool guy and I would have loved to work with him. I KNEW if he rejected me it was going to hurt bad.

Then he rejected me.

And I survived! LOL! As I sat there waiting for the massive stabs of loserdom to hit- I realized they were a no show. Now don’t get me wrong, I knew this guy was a long shot being as he doesn’t do my genres- any of them! But he was so dang cool! And his rejection just made me mentally go “next”.

The other event that made me realize I’m moving on to another level was the discovery that my ending on my steampunk SUCKED. Massively sucked big time to horrifying proportions in fact. I hadn’t looked at this book since I finished it last fall, and I knew I rushed the ending. But when I realized how awful it was I didn’t freak, I didn’t panic, I just went “well, that’s not good” and started re-writing the dang ending.

In both of the later two cases, the old writer me would have freaked, broken down, curled in a corner, or at least eaten too much chocolate. Instead, I just mentally shrugged and moved on.

I think I’m getting it into my head that this is a CAREER not a one-shot deal. Having multiple projects (and another just popped up) really helps remind me- if these don’t sell, maybe the next one will.

I’m looking forward to the next stage of my writing life, and that time when I finally get my books out there to be read by the public.

Where are you on your writing stages?


  1. Rejections are definitely are part of this writing life. When I got my first offer after numerous rejections, I had to read it over and over while pinching myself. Guess what? I didn't take it. I went for the publisher who asked me to revise and resubmit. I'm so glad, because I know my story is better now. I am looking forward to a release date this summer.

  2. I spent years writing odd sentences on random pieces of paper, and sometimes my own skin, but only seriously tried to write a book in 2005. That attempt is still floating in the ether, or rather, on my hard drive, but I just finished one book which is out on submission right now.

    I'm pretty much ready to start the next one, but for some reason my brain hasn't really felt the 'go' button yet. It will come. And if the one I already completed gets rejected, I'll sub it to someone else. As you say, rejection is not a fatal wound. It's barely a wound at all, if you handle it right.

  3. Rejection stings at first. Even later down the road, it can really hurt unless you surrender to the process. It is inevitable for most of us at some point and learning how to deal with it instead of falling to pieces is critical. Signing with an agent has definitely changed the focus of my pressure, but as we prepare to submit to editors, I remind myself to be strong because facing rejection from publishers is possible. A positive frame of mind coupled with a relentlesss spirit will lead to success... eventually.

  4. Even after your book is accepted by a major publisher, rejections still happen. :( But after working hard to get to that point, you know you can fend off the nasty rejection blues because it acceptance happened before and will happen again. It's part and parcel of this business. Just because my publisher said no to a new series that admittedly doesn't fit well into the line my other series is in doesn't mean another publisher won't say yes. So we just buck up and move on. Good luck with your future submissions!

  5. Thanks Karen- I think of it all as stages of our writing life. As we move along the path we either give up, or get stronger ;). I'm chosing the strong option m'self.

  6. Great blog Marie!!! :)

    I'm in the panic stage as my release date for my first book gets closer... YIKES!!!

    I'm also editing and anxious to get back to writing new words! LOL

    You're definitely on the right track!!!

    Lisa :)

  7. First off, congrats on getting a request from a really cool agent. This one may not have worked out, but there will be other opportunities.

    I work with a partner and I feel like we've hit another stage recently. We signed with an agent and we're simply writing faster and better. Part of that is due to the fact we're plotting stories out with more detail than we did before. I guess you could say we're reformed pansters.

    Great post. Thanks!

  8. Thanks Lisa and Gabriella! I love hearing from folks on all levels of their writing lives- thanks for dropping by!