Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Don't reject me... You wouldn't like me if you rejected me! (Okay, a very poor tribute to the Hulk's famous line!)

Rejection sucks! Is there something in the human body that sends out a flood of horrid hormones when the sudden bad news hits? Because, honestly, the moment the words hit my eyeballs, I feel totally sick to my stomach, I am dizzy, depressed, and I suddenly start snapping at whoever is in my path about absolutely nothing ("Why is there only one barrette in your head? Can we not keep two barrettes in your hair? They're like lost socks in the dryer, for goodness sakes. Am I made of money that I should keep buying more? Next time you wear pink you're just going to have to wear one pink and one purple, because I am not buying more! Do you hear me??")

I get a full-on headache that feels like some construction worker just started a jackhammer in my skull. My entire motivation to power on is sucked dry. I immediately go to that bad place. ("I'm not ever going to make it! I'm a horrible writer!")

No, I didn't start sending queries again, but for those of you out there who are, I feel your pain. I forget, sometimes, those brief minutes - or hours - after a rejection when everything in you shuts down. It may not take long to bounce back, but that period of time before the resiliency is worse than awful.

This all started tonight when I returned from a very pleasant and unexpected night out when I had a great conversation with my husband about a really positive critique I'd gotten on a submission to my Formerly Lame Internet writing group (heretofore called my FLI group). I was feeling confident. My husband told me I need to stop saying all the time that there are a million better writers out there and that the odds are stacked against me. I started to listen.

Then I opened my email. And there, in all it's ugliness, was one of the worst critiques you could set your eyes on. Not only a slaughter of my writing, but rude and snarky comments as well, such as "
Can I suggest you Buy a copy of Bobbie Christmas “Write in Style” and study it in depth" and "I suggest you read aloud to yourself and then edit before exposing your work to a critical audeicne." (The typos are his) Here's another favorite: "Same problem with this sentence, three commas + And. Do you sue a grammar style checker, such as the one on MS word? " The snarky comments doubled the size of my work.

The worst part? Some of what he said was true, and I knew it. Never mind that the majority of what he said made no sense and that he obviously didn't read my preface where I said this was the third chapter in a book and that Travis, named briefly here, was her husband because he kept telling me he had no idea who Travis was and what the heck was happening? The point was, some of what he said did make sense.

And the delightful, empowering conversation with my husband went out the window, and the headaches, dizziness, sickening feeling, and irrational crabbiness ensued. And I remembered how much this feeling sucks.

And then, as I was fighting to claw my way out of this hole, another email arrived. A private one from someone in the group, who told me to ignore everything this guy said, that she thought my writing was really good and he didn't know what he was talking about.

And, like that, the scales balanced out.

This, I suppose, is how we manage in this business. With friends. I thought today about much things have changed for me in the last year. A year ago I was writing on my own. I knew no one else who wrote. I had no one else unbiased that could read my work. It felt like me against the writing world. And then I met you all. I met the members of my Fab 4 Four Corners group. I met a few stellar individuals in my FLI group. And suddenly I am not alone.

So thank you for being part of my life. Thank you for hoping with me, and seeing a great future when I can't. Thank you for saying something positive even if you have to dig deep to find it. Thank you for sharing your work, your hopes, your fears, your rejections. Y'all rock!


  1. You're not bad yourself.


    Seriously though, the query process? Possibly the worst form of extended torture I've ever put myself through. Give me anything else any day.

    Take the parts you feel are pertinent and. Ignore. The. Rest. You are a fabulous writer. Fabulous.

    I've read your stuff, and I can say that. Now I am off to send some more rejections.

  2. I haven't been into the group, but seriously? Someone was that horrible?
    I read your last submission, and I haven't posted because other than 'Its great, the voice is perfect, never faltered and the medical info came across natural' - I had nothing to suggest. You're doing it all perfectly, so I was waiting to read it again and sink my teeth into it before I posted my crit. How horrible. The whole point of the group is to encourage each other. I wonder if this person is who I think it is.

    I'm horrible when it comes to critiquing myself, like most writers. We are our own worst enemies. I take all the bad as truth and the good I tend to not believe. Horrible trait, I know. I can't believe that, but I'm glad the scales balanced out.

    You've got a fabulous story. Yesterday, it hit me - the inspiration for my next novel. Sadly, it was a tragedy that inspired me, but I have it all in my mind and I've made some notes. I wonder if it is possible to write 2 novels at the same time. Dangerous terriroty I would think . . . . ; )

  3. Even if he wasn't rude, even if it was all true, truth hurts sometimes, and rejection is part of this business. Sigh. But when it happens, all logic is out the window until the horrid hormones go away.

    Thanks for your encouragement, both of you!

    Brittany - as for the other story, that's awesome that you have another idea! I usually am so into my current work I flesh it out a bit on note cards and put it away, but you need to decide for yourself. Maybe work on them both for a little while and see which is stronger. Like kids, one will end up demanding your attention more than the other for a time!

  4. Thanks. I may do that. I went and checked my email. In my opinion, EVEN IF IT WAS ALL TRUE, (which it wasn't.) his smart-a**ed comments made him look stupid and like a jerk. So his opinion has little weight. If he cannot comment nicely and use common courtesy when critiquing, he shouldn't. If you found something he said to be useful (um. . . . ??) then you, as a writer, choose to change something. Most of his comments were rubbish. Now when I submit my next work and he rips it to shreds, I may come back and throw myself a pity-party. I'm glad he hasn't critiqued my work, I'd crawl into a fetal position and cry.

  5. You are so welcome.

    Just so you know, I've been querying this one for almost a year. I've queried a few projects before that.

    Reeeeejection. I'm not gonna say you get used to it, because you don't, but I do think after awhile you get tougher, and your will to get on with it gets stronger.

    As for those who ravage your work... I commend you so much for being able to step back and see where the criticism could be correct. That takes maturity and guts. But, never forget that anybody who talks trash ends up looking that way.