I love to write. I jokingly say writing keeps me sane. I have so many stories, people, places, things swirling around in my head I need to get out and on paper. That doesn’t always mean I can write. Or that what I’m writing is any good. Sometimes I want to write; I have the drive to put something on paper and craft a masterful story but I can’t think of a damn thing to say. I sit there and stare at the forsaken curser, blinking at me like it’s judging me for my inability to type anything.
Sometimes I’m writing something and I’m looking at it thinking I am a damn genius. Rereading it and laughing at my hilarious dialogue. “Damn I’m good,” and I pat myself on my back. Then I remember the piles, well metaphorical piles since everything is electronical now, of rejection letters. And I’ll look at what I’m writing and think: “is it really that good? Or am I that delusional? What’s wrong? What am I doing wrong?”
Writing is hard. Having the thick skin to keep submitting your writing is even harder. You work so hard to get the stories from your head down onto the paper. You cry and bleed, those papercuts are brutal, you drink too much caffeine and you pour your heart into your masterpiece. You send it off to the editor, which can be even more terrifying, waiting for the harsh mark of the red pen. You look at all the red marks and try not to take it personal. All the changes that are needed. All the times you see the editor tell you what you wrote before wasn’t good enough.
Yes, I know that’s not what they mean. But it’s hard not to feel like that for a minute. I mean…this is personal to me. I wrote this! This is my baby! I’ve created and nurtured this thing. Be nice to it. But once you’re past that, and you gather your wounded pride back together and polish up your writing…you send your precious baby off. And you’re met with rejection after rejection.
It’s really hard to find the courage to keep writing after that. Even now, that my precious baby years in the making has a home with a publisher, I still feel like that sometimes. I was rejected for years. Over and over and over. The standard response of ‘not right for us but the market is subjective’. I’ve lost count of how many of those I received. Or ‘it doesn’t fit our catalogue right now but the market is subjective’. Or the worse one yet, ‘I wasn’t intrigued enough to want to request more’. Ouch man. That’s what every writing wants to hear. “You’re writing bored me.” Insert image of me clutching my chest.
So, how do you keep going? How does anyone?
You say “fuck them” and keep going. That’s how.
The market is huge. There are so many readers out there and every day someone new is picking up a book. There are millions of publishers. So, you keep tweaking that query letter. Keep changing up your pitch. Have someone read your work and describe your own book back to you. Sometimes they pick up on things you never noticed.
I used to pitch and describe my book as a fantasy adventure about a girl fighting to save her kingdom. Then my friend read my manuscript and I asked her to describe it to me. She told me my book was a coming of age story about a girl trying to find acceptance for herself and realize who she really is. I stared at her with an open mouth because yes, my book was that. I just hadn’t seen it. So, don’t let yourself fall into a stagnant pit and keep changing, altering, searching for that hook that works.
And send it to everyone you can think of. Prepare yourself for a lot of no’s. Remind yourself why you write. I write so I can stay sane. And have pretty book with my name on it sitting on my shelf so I can point at it and say, “I made dis”.
Because sometimes writing really sucks. Then other times, it’s all I can think to do with myself.