So I was just told by my eleven year old that Dad was awesome. As an after-thought she added that I was awesome too. That sort of careless comment stings. But as a writer its a feeling that you become more than just a little familiar with.
We spend so much time in our heads as writers that sometimes we forget that to others we might seem a bit odd. Whether you write full-time or part-time you often get a similar response from people when you tell them you're a writer. That oh, that's cool, reaction and then an awkward silence. Its even worse when you get a pass on your query for your writing that follows the same vein as my daughter's comment. Your work was good, has its strengths even, but just isn't right for that editor or agent now. In other words you might be nice, but someone else was truly awesome.
So how do you turn that sting or those hurt feelings into something positive? As writers we live with our feelings close to the surface. If we didn't where would we draw from to bring our stories to life. That can make it very hard to face rejection. You might be asking yourself right now why keep at it? What is the point of going on with this hard, maddening, sometimes impossible art form known as writing?
Because of the way writing that next story, working on that new project makes you feel. First maybe comes the germ of an idea or a character that seems so real to you they could just walk right out of your imagination into the world. The excitement and joy of discovery are almost like first love all over again. Only this time you get to write the ending, you get to be in charge of fate. This is your world and you get to reign supreme. Heady stuff.
Then the final chapter comes, the rewrite is complete, and you have to convince others to love your story as much as you do. It is a daunting, scary task. But maybe its a good journey to navigate. Much as we'd like to, we can't live in our heads forever. If we lost touch with reality our characters and worlds would too. So maybe the positive about rejection is the pain itself. The learning curve that forces us to crash back down to earth and figure out what next. In order to write stories that make people feel we have to first feel the full spectrum of emotions ourselves. To make a good story you have to have a protagonist that suffers and in someway changes and learns something in the end. How can we ask our imaginary creations to do that if we can't hack it first?
So go out there and fall in love again and remember that feeling when you have to fight for your story in the real world. And hopefully you won't have to do anything as hard as what you just made your characters suffer through.
- Ann Schwarz
- I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.