Sew I was working at the sewing store the other day…yes, I know that’s corny, but it makes me happy, and by now you should all know that I’m a little corny, so I’m going to continue. Anyway, this customer, I’ll call her Mary, not because I’m trying to protect her privacy, but because I just can’t remember her name. So Mary came in and asked if we did sewing for other people. The answer is no, we don’t. We sell sewing machines, embroidery software and sewing tools. Mary asked if I sewed. “Yes.” She asked if I like sewing. “Yes, I love it.” Would you be interested in doing some sewing for me? “No, I don’t sew for money. “ (I promise you this isn’t a sewing column. Really, I promise!)

So it turns out Mary has created a fashion design, but she doesn’t sew and wants to find someone to sew for her. I find this interesting, and the store is slow so we continue talking. She also has to figure out how to market her product, and the conversation turns to craft fairs, online stores, social media and blogs…and finally—here it is—writing.

Not only does Mary not sew, she’s not a writer…oh, hey I remember her name now, but we’ll just stay with Mary. It’s not that far off anyway…so Mary isn’t a writer, but I am. We start talking about writing and the advertising and marketing work I’ve done, then the magazine articles and newspaper articles I’ve written, and Mary wants to know if I’d consider writing some press releases and promotional blurbs for her. “Yes, yes I will. I write for money.”

So she asks what I’ve been working on lately. “Why fiction. Thank you for asking.” She is impressed and wants to know more about my story, so I give her a little description of my characters and the plot of my WIP (okay, WASS, or Work at a StandStill). Now she is fascinated. She loves to read and wants to know where my ideas come from. “Well, just from living. There are ideas all around. Every day and every person you meet is inspiration for a story.” (Little did she know she would end up in this blog…as Mary.) She is satisfied and tells me knowingly that she was pretty sure that the characters in the novels she read were actually real people.

“Well,” I tell her. “It’s not really like that.”

Okay, now she wants to know how I know what to write. I debate. Do I tell her? I rarely tell non-writers how I work. Most writers understand, most non-writers, well, they think I’m crazy. I suppose they could be write…yes, I know, but it makes me happy.

Mary pressures a little more, intrigued by how fiction makes it to the printed page…So am I. I’d like to know how to get it to the printed page…and she asks, “but how do you create all of those stories and characters.”

I don’t really want to tell her, and I consider saying, “I took a class,” but that would be a lie. Then the words just spill out of my mouth. “The characters tell me the story. I just write it down.”

Now she is satisfied, sure that she was write and states that obviously, I interview real people, and that’s where the story comes from.

Instead of smiling and saying, “Sure that’s it,” my mouth keeps moving and I say, “No, the characters are fictional. They’re in my head, and I just let them tell the story.”

Suddenly her face shuts down, and I realize the error of my ways. She now believes me to be a schizophrenic, hearing voices in my head. (Who knows? Wven I’m not sure that isn’t true, but it’s working for me, so I’ll go with it.)

Mary quickly thanks me for my help, tells me she’ll get back to me about the promotional writing, and says she better not keep me from my work any longer.

Sew…she was write. I really did need to get back to work. (See isn’t that fun? Okay, corny but fun.)

Really, I know better than to explain to non-writers how I write, but I’m never sure exactly what I should tell them. What do you say? How do you explain your writing process to non-writers? Do I really need medication? All you writers out there, tell me where your stories come from…come on, you can tell me. I’ll understand.

Tari

At a wine-fueled dinner, where my fiction writing was a topic, a friend exclaimed, “We need to get you to be more creative.”

Me.

Me!

ME!

Holy Shitake mushrooms, I’m a writer, a fiction writer, how much more creative do you want me to be?

While another friend defended my work and my slow pace to publication, I sat and stewed, guzzling my wine and spitting ugly accusations in my head. These people don’t know my writing. These people don’t know the industry. These people have had way too much to drink.

But then, like always, I started to wonder why the universe had manipulated events such that I was sitting there, being subjected to that. (In case you don’t already know, I’m not a big believer in chance.) It took a couple days before I gained clarity. And you know what?

She was sorta, kinda right.

She wasn’t talking about me being more creative with my writing. She was talking about submitting and pursuing publication. While her call to action vacillated between becoming a blogging sensation and a fan-fic super star, her motivating factor was much simpler: Think outside the publication box.

While I see my years in non-fiction publishing as a benefit, she saw it as a liability, essentially calling me a creature of habit.

“Throw a chapter online,” she said. “Post the next one, next week. You’ll be published before you know it.”

I rolled my eyes. “It doesn’t work that way. Trust me. I know this business.”

The more I think about it, the more I get what she was trying to say. I said “I know this business,” but I don’t. I KNEW an entirely different business. Writing isn’t writing isn’t writing across the board.

This fiction thing is a whole new ballgame. (You’re going to have to put up with some baseball references, cheesy or not. It’s almost April, people.)

So, to my dear friend, who shares with me a love of wine, a worry for our kids’ futures and pride in being a strong, capable woman, thank you. While you won’t read a chapter a week anytime soon, I am forcing myself outside the box. Don’t fault me if I jump back inside, though. It’s scary out here. 🙂

Okay, confession time. I haven’t done much writing for the last month, well, since the week of Valentine’s! I have to admit this has been a month that I wouldn’t care to repeat anytime soon, or ever hopefully. The 14th was Valentine’s Day as always, then my mother had surgery on the 15th. On February 16th, just before arriving home to attend a funeral (2nd this year), my hunky husband was laid off from his job—but the national news reported that the unemployment rate had dropped… Anyway, somehow by that same evening, I had been offered a job at the sewing store where I worked years ago. Just part time, but it made me feel like I was doing something! On the 16th, my youngest son moved out unexpectedly. While I told you about this (I have a room of my own!), I’ve only told a couple of people about Hunky Hubby’s lay off. I didn’t want to tell my mom when she was trying to recover from surgery, so that meant being very careful about telling people.

My mom had some complications that made her recovery take longer. We had some credit card fraud, and Hunky Hubby lost a filling and had to have a root canal. Did I mention that I slammed my thumb in a car door when I was 14, and although the nail has never grown back properly, I’ve never had trouble with it, until now of course… My thumb swelled up to about three times its normal size. In fact my entire hand was swollen and was extremely tender, just in time for my first day of work…write hand of course. (No that isn’t a typo. It was my WRITE hand.)

So I’ve spent the past month a frantic mess, haven’t touched my manuscript…even though I’ve wanted to since I have a room of my own. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t done any writing. I’ve written dozens of cover letters and a few resumes for Hunky Hubby over the last five weeks. I could write this post about resume writing if you want a more “writerish” post. (Let me know. I’m great at resumes!)

Hunky Hubby has been pretty wonderful, holding it together when I sat down and cried…about his job, about my son moving out, about credit card fraud, about my thumb… The kids have been pretty great too. Youngest son comes by to walk the dog most days and to let me know that just because he moved out doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me—or my cooking—anymore. Middle son, who has been working full time and going to school part time saving up as much money as possible, had just quit his job so he could focus on school full time, and he offered to go back to work. (Luckily, this wasn’t necessary.) The few friends that know what’s been going on have been very supportive as well, and I’m thankful for my amazing guys and caring friends, including Gayle, Ed, Chris, Tammy & Danny, Andrea & Dave…Dave, who we didn’t tell anything to because this all started the day of his mother’s funeral; Sue, who didn’t know how supportive she was really being, and Susan who did; to Elley who puts up with me even when I forget I have a blog post due! Really, all of my friends and my family who are always supportive…and I want to thank the Academy. Oh, wait. Sorry! Did I say that out loud? I generally save that for my dreams of winning an Academy Award for Best Screenplay from a Novel. (Is that a category?)

But seriously, friends and family make the hard times easier to get through and the good times that much better. And the good news is that today Hunky Hubby is back to work at a new job. He’s waiting for a crown for his tooth. The credit card fraud has been straightened out. My thumb is back to normal size, and I ended up with a new doctor that I’m really happy to have. I’m enjoying my job at the sewing store and plan on staying if they’ll keep me…and today, *deep breath & sigh of relief* I’m staying at my desk in my new office/sewing room and dusting off my manuscript.

How has 2012 been for you so far? I hope you’ve had a better start to the year than we have, not to complain. (Overall we’ve been pretty lucky about how things have turned out.) I know Nicole has had a happy event this year. Congratulations Nicole! I’d love to hear from the rest of you. Please share!

Tari

First things first…if you follow Nicole on Twitter, then this is old news. If you don’t, then pop over and offer her congratulations for this:

Pretty cool, huh?

So while Nicole is spending time with her beautiful family, I’ve been spending time with an ex, an ex-manuscript that is.

I thought I was done with it. I thought I could walk away. I thought wrong.

The day before Nicole gave birth, I finally got the gumption to send along the next chapter in my work in progress (WIP). Of course, she was kind of busy. 🙂 Because of the importance of the chapter and her feedback to the story, I decided to sit on the WIP a little while longer. Then came the question: Now what?

While I tried to answer the question, I became bored, and in the downtime, some miniscule detail of my day reminded me about an ex-WIP. I started reminiscing about all the fun we’d had, writing and revising. Such good times!

Of course, there was misery. We parted ways in the very early stages of submission. I submitted the completed manuscript one time, and that one time resulted in Rejection. With this blow to my ego, I took a closer look at the story, and I saw serious flaws. How could I have thought we were so good?

I was devastated. I’d spent major time loving and caring for this creature only to have failed it in the end. I couldn’t bear to see it, so I pushed it away.

As I returned to life without the manuscript by my side, there were reminders all around me. Instead of deleting emails pertaining to the manuscript, I cherished them. The songs I’d written by brought me to a standstill. Every trip to the lake sparked memories of our time together. My pining was out of control.

Eventually, I did what any woman trying to heal a broken heart did…I forced myself to move on with the help of newer, shinier stories that offered a blast of excitement and held the promise of a clean slate where I wouldn’t repeat my earlier mistakes.

But I made mistakes. I hit rough patches. And the ex was never far from my mind.

This week, I cracked. I let the ex back into my life. After a couple hours together, I realized I’d never fallen out of love with this story. Maybe I’m crazy, but I’ve decided to give it another shot.

We have so much potential.

Can it work? I don’t know. I’ve heard stories about writers who fade into oblivion, wasting hour after hour on a manuscript past its prime. I’ve heard other stories about writers who abandoned the old and immediately sold the new. And of course, I’ve heard stories about writers who never gave up, rejection after rejection, keeping faith in the story they’d written until it finally sold. You know that? I can’t say that I’ve ever heard a story about a writer who tossed a manuscript aside, wrote two more, and then went back to the first.

Am I crazy?

Don’t answer that. I’m pretty sure I know the answer, but I’m going to go with it and see what happens. 🙂

Elley

A Room of My Own

March 19, 2012

So I may have mentioned that my youngest son moved out. Did I mention that? Well, actually, he moved out last year. I waited to take over his room, and then of course, he moved back in…

So anyway, a couple of weeks ago, my youngest son moved out…again. This time I didn’t wait to take over his room. In fact he’d gotten the key to his new apartment and said, “Mom, I think I’ll just leave some of this stuff here for a while,” referring to things still in his room. He seemed a little surprised when I said, “No, I’d rather you take all of this stuff…” also referring to things in his room “…by the end of the weekend. I can use the space.”

So, by Monday, I had my own room. I put my little blue desk in the room, some bulletin boards and magnet boards; I have shelves, a cabinet, and my ipod stereo. I also have my sewing and crafting supplies in there. I can write, read, sew, listen to music…it’s heaven. I can leave my manuscript spread out all over the desk with various notes and rewrites in organized stacks, and it’s not in the way—I can just close the door. My little jar is filled with 10-cent blue pens. (Did I tell you I found them on sale in a 12 pack for a dollar? Now they’re less than 10 cents!) I have a fresh stack of empty spiral notebooks just waiting for me to fill them, and a fresh ink cartridge in my printer. My much loved thesaurus, a birthday gift from my brother a couple—well, more like a few…okay a LOT of birthdays ago—is on the shelf next to my favorite dictionary…yes, I still use them. (Come on really, what do you expect? I do still write with a pen in a notebook.)

I need to find a cozy reading chair for the corner, where I can curl up with a good book, and maybe a little table for a cup of tea…oooh, or a nice glass of wine, and I’m going to make new curtains for the window.

Yikes, did I say I miss my son? Well, he only moved a mile away, and I see him almost as much as I did when he lived at home, but now I have my own office/library/sewing room!

So I’m getting a lot more work done these days, except I do catch myself spending time on the internet, looking for decorating ideas.

So how many of you have a room of your own? An office, study, library, whatever you call your special place? How many of you are waiting patiently? How many of you find you get more work done when you leave the house?

Tari

Okay, so Pi Day has nothing to do with pie, but I’ve always liked to eat more than I’ve liked anything having to do with math. So Pi Day becomes Pie Day in my house. Normally, I’d go out and buy a pie, but the other night, a craving hit me so hard I decided to make a pie. (If you know about my aversion to the kitchen, you’ll see this for the miracle it is.)

What did I crave? A banana split pie with graham cracker crust, creamy center, bananas, pineapples, whipped cream, nuts and cherries. What does this have to do with writing? More than you might think.

The piece of paper containing the recipe for banana split pie is more than thirty years old. The paper and the handwriting belonged to my neighbor, Giselle. She made this pie every picnic of my early childhood. When I look at this paper, when I make this pie, I think of Giselle, who died decades ago, and I think of the neighborhood I left behind almost as long ago.

But it’s not just Giselle’s writing on the yellowed page, another person made her mark. My mother took notes throughout the years on ways to make the recipe low-fat, low-sugar and safer (no raw eggs!). These notes bring back even more memories. The reason the recipe was modified to low-sugar was because my father was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in his late thirties. One look at her notes, and I remember the hospital stay and the fear in my heart.

Even a recipe has a story to tell.

I’m going to do something today that I will most likely never do again. I’m going to share a recipe with you. I wish I could write it down and mail it, because something gets lost in the translation from handwritten to computer printed. Keep that in mind the next time a good friend asks for a recipe. Write it down.

You don’t have to be writing an article or a 100,000-word piece of fiction to have an impact on a life.

 

Giselle’s Banana Split Pie

Crust:

3 c crushed graham crackers (or prepared crust from store)

8 Tbsp. butter or margarine

1/2 c sugar

Blend together until smooth and place in 9×13 glass dish or pan.

***Note from my mother: Giselle’s recipe does not call for baking, however, I always bake mine for about 4 min. at 325 or 350 degrees and watch closely so it does not burn.

Filling:

2 c confectioners’ sugar

1/2 c butter or margarine (melted)

Blend together and add 1 Teas. Vanilla

***Note from my mother: Giselle’s recipe says to add a raw egg, and I never, never would! Instead, I add about 1-2 Tbsp. milk.

Pour this mixture over the crust.

Cover this with 3-4 sliced bananas, then a can of crushed pineapple (which has been drained well)

Cover with large cool whip and add chopped nuts and maraschino cherries.

Chill for a few hours

Enjoy!

Elley

 

To Be Read

March 13, 2012

Yesterday, Elley wrote about reading, and I realized that I haven’t actually read a book this year, well not fiction anyway. Years ago this wouldn’t have happened; I read books faster than I could acquire them. But here I am with a stack of books on my nightstand in my ‘to read’ pile, and a few downloads on my Kindle that have not yet been read, and the truth is, that the only thing I’ve been reading is my own manuscript…which has been at a little bit of a stand still.

So maybe that’s what I need to do…read a book. Reading a good book makes me aspire to write something special. Heck, reading a bad book makes me want to prove I can do better.  I have two political thrillers, several historical romances, four contemporary romances and a chick-lit waiting for me to read them. Oh, and my mother just passed a large paper bag of books my way that I have yet to sort through…

I’m writing contemporary women’s fiction. The last two books I’ve read have been historical fiction, Maya Banks’ In Bed with a Highlander and Courtney Milan’s Unclaimed, both outstanding reads.

So, I’m leaning toward something with a sense of humor, maybe Carol Snow’s Getting Warmer. I think I’ll go with that. I’ll let you know.

So what books have you read that were so good they made you aspire to better writing? Which books have you read that were…well, they made you want to prove that you could do better? I’d love to know…

Tari

What Are You Reading?

March 12, 2012

Writers read. Between the demands of life and the need to write, we often read less than we’d like, making time spent reading even more precious. Some writers read within the genre they write, because that’s what they enjoy, what inspires them and what illustrates market trends. Others explore different genres for a complete escape from their writing.

I’m late to The Hunger Games craze, having just started the first book this past weekend. Honestly, this is about as far away from my writing and usual reads as I can get. First-person narrative, dystopian world, violence and children in peril are all characteristics that would prompt me to pick another book. But there is something about this book. Maybe it’s the strength of the heroine. Maybe it’s the barbaric turn society has taken hundreds of years after whatever disaster eliminated CIVILization. Whatever the reason I’m reading a book that forces me firmly outside my comfort zone, and I’m not sure how long I want to remain there. 🙂

How about you? What are you reading? Do you read the genre you write, or do you explore other genres? What topics make you uncomfortable while reading?

***As part of our birthday week celebration, we’re picking our favorite posts of the last year. This is Elley’s favorite. It originally appeared on the blog on July 8, 2011.

The other day, my CP sent along a chapter attached to a familiar-sounding email.  She wrote how she hated the chapter, and she added that she’d hit a dead end, was staring at blank pages and generally felt disillusioned with her writing. I knew before I even read the chapter that it wasn’t going to be as bad as she thought. I knew because I do this sort of thing too.

If not once a month, at least once a manuscript, I send off an email declaring, “I suck. The WIP sucks. I’m prepared for you to dump my unworthy ass—or at least shower me with disgust.” That has yet to happen. Instead, she calls me crazy…and I’m not offended, because she’s right.

Aren’t we all crazy? I mean we admit to having people wandering around in our heads telling us what to write. They argue with us. They pout. And then they do or say something so marvelous that they have us plowing through family members and leaping furniture in order to get to pen and paper or laptop to jot down the moment of brilliance. Considering all that, I’m okay with crazy. What I’m not okay with is a perfectly good writer getting depressed enough to stop writing.

So without further ado, here are the top 10 (sort-of-serious, hopefully humorous) tips for overcoming the I Suck Funk.

10. Read a really sucky book. (Use Amazon or Goodreads to find a horrifically low-ranking title.) As you read, loudly declare, “I can do better than this.”

9. Read a completed manuscript that you enjoyed writing. As you read, jot down your favorite lines on Post-it notes (aka Sean Kowalski-style—Shannon Stacey’s Yours to Keep) and stick them around your writing area…no, your entire house…to remind yourself of your writing prowess.

8. Let your CP know you’re in a bad way. (Don’t have a CP? Enlist the help of a trusted friend or your mother—if she can handle what you write – or your spouse—if he wouldn’t rather poke his eyes out than read about people falling in love.) Be bold. Ask for her (or him) to read something you’ve written and comment on what’s good—at least five things they liked. Tell her (or him) to keep her (or his) mouth shut about the negatives. This isn’t a critique. It’s a lie-if-you-have-to, build-the-bitch-back-up read through. There’s already enough negativity rolling around in your head.

7. Spend inordinate amounts of time working on your blog, website, Twitter and Facebook. Soon your eyes will burn, your ass will hurt and your head will feel so stuffy you’ll have to walk away from the laptop and engage in real life for a few days. There’s nothing like real life to push you back into the imaginary world in your head.

6. Quit writing. Seriously. Throw your hands up in the air, and declare, “I’m done. I’ve wasted how many years of my life? I suck. Nobody will ever pay money to read what I write.” And turn the laptop off. Better yet, put it away…on the top of a closet shelf. Close the door. Spit on it. Now—and this is the important part—sit down at the dining table and make a list of all the things you can do since you’re no longer wasting your time writing, things like: laundry, cleaning house, lawn care, planning a family reunion, dental appointments, pap smears. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Nah. Go get the laptop. Kiss it. Hug it. Because even sucky writing is better than washing dishes.

5.  Read or watch something seriously depressing about dreams unrealized, lives cut short. Want a bigger impact? Take a quiet walk through a nearby graveyard and imagine all the people who were laid to rest before they were able to see their dreams come true. You may send yourself spiraling into the pit of despair, or you may run home—tears and all—to throw open your laptop and write like there’s no tomorrow, because maybe there’s not. There are no guarantees. Spend the time you have doing what you love.

4. Look at your kids if you have them. (If you don’t, look at someone else’s kids and pretend. Just don’t touch them, or you might get hauled off by the police.) Children learn to live life through observation. What do you want them to observe from you? The posture of a dejected quitter or a determined, (fairly) unshakable writer, who faces down the dark spots and pushes into the light?

3. Drink. Wine. Lots. Then write…just for fun. And email the results to me.

2. Eat. Sweets. Lots. Then when you’ve gained too much weight to sit comfortably in your desk chair and your blood pressure goes so high you must spend hours a day lying on your left side, you can quit writing, knowing it was an external conflict that drove you away from writing rather than an internal conflict that pretty much made you a heroine who’s too stupid to live (TSTL).

1. For crying out loud, just write.  Give yourself permission to write suckish stuff sometimes. Before every suck-filled writing session repeat after me: “I will write for thirty minutes as fast as I can. I will not let doubt slow me down. If it sucks, then it sucks. But like a clogged drain, I’m going to flush the crap that blocks the flow, and I’m going to write, because sucky or not, I…AM…A…WRITER.”

***As part of our birthday week celebration, we’re picking our favorite posts of the last year. This is Nicole’s favorite. It originally appeared on the blog on December 13, 2011.

I’ve been seriously submitting to publishers (a few agents too) for almost two years now, and in that time I’ve received a lot of rejections ranging from a revise & submit (which still ultimately ended in rejection) to your average form letter rejection and a lot of stuff in between. I’ve made about 15 submissions in that time, and been rejected 14 of those 15 times.

Rejection sucks. It doesn’t get easier. In fact, if you have some modicum of success like a contract or even positive comments with a rejection, getting a form letter seems even harder to swallow after. It feels like backward progress, like your writing has become worse rather than better.

The thing is, getting published isn’t a straight line from A to B. There are a lot of ways to get there and a lot of detours along the way.

When we first get a rejection, it’s hard to remember that. It’s hard to let the rational part of our brain react.  Instead, it’s usually the irrational side that starts yelling, crying, whispering, poking at you. But, if you really want to be a published author, if you really want this to be your career, you have to think of it in that business manner. It can’t be personal, even when the irrational/emotional side of your brain wants it to be.

So, today, perhaps to cope with a little rejection of my own, I’ve made two lists. The first list is those irrational responses we have. Some might even be valid or worthy of a second or two of thought. You might need to vent those feelings to a loved one or to a CP, but mostly, the second list is the one we need to focus on. The one that we should remember in the public forum of the internet. The mature, business-minded, rational reaction to rejection.

Irrational Thoughts upon Rejection

1. I suck. I must be the worst writer in the world. Why did I ever submit that piece of filthy garbage?

2. The editors are fools! How could they ignore my brilliance when they’ve published x, y, or z crap?

3. What’s the point in all this? I’m just going to keep getting rejected. I give up.

4. Woe is me. Everyone else has it so much better. Look at This Person. Her life is perfect. It’s not fair!

5. I will never write again.

6. What am I doing that is so wrong? This is the best thing I’ve ever written and it’s still not good enough! Why isn’t this happening for me?

The Rational Side of Those Irrational Thoughts

1. It is normal and understandable for rejection to feel personal. But it’s not (unless you’ve made some kind of horrible shrew of yourself in the past so that no one wants to work with you). For most publishers and agents there are a million things that go into the decision of acceptance or rejection. Perhaps your writing isn’t sharp enough. Maybe your concept is too close to another book they’ve already published/contracted. Maybe, regardless of how well the story is written, there’s something about it that will be hard to sell. Maybe they’re already full to the brim of a certain sub-genre. Maybe your story really isn’t ready yet. There are a million and one reasons for rejection. They don’t always mean you suck, and they never mean you can’t get better. Read over your manuscript. Chances are if you subbed it months ago, you’ll see some weaknesses after having a break from it. I once subbed something and didn’t get a response until almost a year later. When I read it a year later, I cringed at how bad it was. I had come so far as a writer I couldn’t blame them for rejection. It had been the best I could do, but it was no longer the best I had to offer. The thing about writing is we continue to grow and get better. Chances are if it’s been a while, you’ll have the clarity to see that you can improve that story now, even if you couldn’t have then.

2. Nothing irritates me more (and I’m sure editors and agents feel the same way) than someone complaining that the editor, agent, whoever is just too stupid to see the brilliance in a manuscript. These people did not get their jobs because they’re stupid or don’t understand the genre or the publisher. While it’s good to have confidence in your work, if you’re blaming everyone else for your rejection, chances are you’re wrong. I’m always amazed when I see an agent or editor post a nasty response they’ve gotten to a rejection. Remember, just because you wrote a book doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed or owed publication. Just because it’s the best you can do doesn’t mean it’s better than the other submissions publishers/agents are getting. Accept that it wasn’t a good fit, and leave the blame game behind. You’ll never get better if you can’t admit there’s room for improvement.

3. If you want to give up, go ahead, but you won’t succeed. The only way to become published is to keep going. If you feel like you want to quit, explore those feelings. What’s more important to you: avoiding rejection or continuing to try? Sometimes, the answer is avoiding rejection, and that’s okay. No one’s forcing you to become a writer. If it’s not what you really want, do everyone a favor and give up. The great thing about writing is that you can always come back to it later when you’re ready to try again. Whatever you decide moments after the rejection doesn’t have to be what you stick to the next day. If you need to take a break from submitting, do it. But if this is really what you want, you have to keep plugging away at it. Giving up won’t lead you to publication.

4. Comparisons are never your friend. They will never make you feel better. And, especially in social media, it is easy for a person to present their life in only positive terms. If you’ve ever been to pinterest, you’ve probably seen the silly pictures they have with funny sayings, and one of my favorites is, “Someday I hope my life is as awesome as you pretend yours is on Facebook.” The bottom line is you really never truly know what another person’s life, career, emotional state is like ESPECIALLY on the internet. You can only worry about you (if you’re a parent or a teacher, you’ve probably said this to a child before). If you’re obsessing about another’s success, you have less time to focus on making your own. It’s not healthy, and it’s not fair to you or the person you’re jealous of.

5. Doubtful. If you’ve gotten this far, it’s because you enjoy writing. Chances are, even if you feel so gutted you vow never to put word to paper again, you will.

6. I think this is the hardest feeling to get over, because the bottom line is it’s hard to find the feedback to answer this question. Sure, a CP helps. (The first book I worked on with my CP is also the first book to land me a contract). Contest feedback can be worthwhile and if you’re really lucky your rejection might give you some inclination as to where you went wrong, but mostly it’s a guessing game. What can you do? You can keep writing. The only way to get better is to keep doing it. You can keep reading. Writers who don’t read are doing themselves a huge disservice. You can take workshops. Look for ones that have been recommended to you by people you trust. Even if something is the best thing you’ve ever written, that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing you’ll ever write. The bottom line is you have to keep trying to get better.

Whining and wallowing for a few days (as long as it’s not in a public forum) can be helpful and even necessary. It’s okay to mourn that opportunity you lost. In fact, not caring about it at all isn’t really that great either. It shows a lack of passion, of wanting it. Feel bad. It’s okay. But at some point you have to let the rational voice take over. You have to pull on your Big Girl/Guy pants and move on. You’ll have to submit again, possibly face rejection again, go through the same process all over again.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but if you want to succeed, it is necessary.

Nicole