Mark Terry

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Letter to Jessica's Cretin

September 16, 2010
I wrote an overlong response to something on the BookEnds blog today, which for whatever reason Blogger wasn't accepting, so here it is:

Dear Author that Jessica Is Talking About:
Ever hear of the 4 stages of grief? Or is it 5? Anyway, I'm convinced that writers, specifically unpublished and unrepresented writers, go through stages ind dealing with rejection. They go something like this:

1. Shock. How dare you reject my beautiful baby, you bitch/bastard. But, because you are a newbie, you decide it's a fluke.

2. Shock and Anger. This tends to occur rather quickly after your first several rejections. The first couple were a fluke, but the next dozen or hundred or two hundred are trying to tell you something. However, since you are undoubtedly a creative genius and your work is far better than that Dan Brown guy and it is clear to everyone that to you Denial is a river in Africa, you get really really angry. You lash out. For your career, hopefully you lash out at, say, a pillow you keep in your living room. But since email makes this so easy, you may lash out at the person who rejected you and you dump all of your anger, denial, doubts and insecurities on somebody who just rejected 349 similar queries the day before because if everybody's piece of crap got published we'd be wallowing in more written material than we already are.

3. Slam the Industry. After getting past Shock and Anger, we decide that the publishing industry sucks, it's illogical, they wouldn't know good material if it bit them on the ass, screw them.

3A. Slam the Industry often does not go away, but continues throughout the career of the writer (often with good reason). However, there are often 4 responses to Slam the Industry. First, learn about the industry and figure out what you're doing wrong. Second, quit writing entirely and take up some other activity like nude volleyball or macrame. Third, self-publish in some fashion, patting yourself on the back for having found a better way to get your voice heard. (And before you respond to me on this, yes, there are sometimes very good reason to self-publish). Four, continue doing what you're doing because there's really no better definition of insanity than expecting a different result from doing the same thing over and over again.

4. Learn what's expected and persist. This usually leads to more personal responses and even acceptances, or at least, someone will read your crap, even if they won't necessary represent you or publish you. But maybe they will.

5. Acceptance. This is the way it is. Keep slogging through it.

6. Thick Skin. The Pro. Although even professionals don't like rejections, for the most part they realize that a rejection is not necessarily personal and that, like a baseball player who had a .300 average, which by the way, is outstanding, they miss 2/3 of the time. But we're not playing baseball, we're writing, and we miss more like 11 out of 12 unless we're bestsellers. We have confidence in our ability and our talents and most importantly our track record, and we understand that we need to find the right person and/or market for our work in order for it to be best served. Those who rejected you may or may not have missed out on a good thing, but we don't take it personally.

And, of course, being a professional writer and nude volleyball are not mutually exclusive. You can do both. Maybe even at the same time.


Blogger BookEnds, LLC said...

This is so true. It's a long hard road and I don't envy, but do definitely admire the authors who stick with it.


6:41 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Because I get a ton of email, and because I'm also the secretary of my school system's band boosters and am the middleman for a lot of parents, I often get strange and sometimes hostile email. It's something I don't envy about an agent's job.

6:49 AM  
Anonymous Susan S said...

Awesome response, Mark. Also completely true. Unfortunately, those stuck in phases 1 and 2 often don't see the forest because they're too busy running repeatedly into the same tree.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Kath Calarco said...

Mark, excellent post. Most of these steps should be viewed by writers as a right of passage. Unfortunately, many writers become entrenched in rumination over rejection and can't stop the blame game by moving forward. For them it's a matter of always being right.

In the beginning of my rejection career I didn't take it personally, I viewed rejection as me not being good enough, which pushed me to do better. But that's how I roll. Change breeds growth.

6:53 AM  

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