I remember when I was a kid and I played tennis for the first time. I was already a very good baseball player and could play a little football and basketball too. Tennis, however, took me quite some time to figure out. My brother Adam is 5 years older than me and when I was 12, my 17-year old brother pretty much dominated me at everything.
I’ll never forget the time that I was just an annoying 14-year old who persevered and finally beat my older brother in tennis. It was one of the greatest accomplishments of my young life and one that I still consider to be a goal that I fought tremendously hard for. I worked my ass off to beat him and the end result was well worth all the defeat I had to endure prior to that glorious day.
Writing is similar to learning how to play a sport. It’s difficult at first but with hard work and practice, you can become great. When you sit down and write, your first draft should be lacking, to say the least. Many times, it will just plain suck. You’ll read it again and think to yourself, “What in the world was I thinking?”
Anyone can write but only the diligent can edit. Editing can be excruciating and mundane at times but it is necessary.
It’s not optional.
You will need to edit, rewrite, and then do it all over again, many times. So, don’t worry about your writing not being any good. Instead, keep working and keep writing. The only thing stopping you is you.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever met anyone who likes to be rejected. I’ll never forget when I was a senior in high school and I’d been dating this girl off and on for close to a year. We were basically a couple but one day as we parked at the mall in Kennesaw, Ga; I decided to make things official and ask her to be my girlfriend.
We sat there in my hot, white S-10 pickup truck and her words hit like a purposeful blow to the gut.
She said it so matter-of-factly that it caught me completely off guard. When I asked her why, cause I didn’t know what else to say, she said, “We’re both too young to be committed and you’re moving off to college soon.”
I didn’t really want to hear her reason, I just wanted her to say yes. As a writer, rejection is a major part of the process. You will hear no many more times than you hear yes. Lit agents, publishing companies, and even some readers. You can learn from the no’s, however. There is usually a reason behind their no.
Sometimes it’s simply because the agent is too busy to take on a new client or it’s just not their taste. Other times your writing needs to be improved before it can be published. I received 22 rejections from lit agents and 2 rejections from publishing companies for THE EARTH BLEEDS RED. I also received serious interest from 2 lit agents and eventually signed directly with a publishing company because it felt like the right thing to do.
Here’s the bottom line: take rejection and build on it. Know that it’s only temporary and never permanent unless you make it permanent. Use the rejection as fuel to become better in your pursuit and strive for greatness. Below are a few examples of writers who dealt with rejection and became incredibly successful:
John Grisham received 25 rejections
The Help received 60 rejection letters
James Joyce got 22 rejection letters for The Dubliners and sold only 300 copies in its first year, 120 of which he bought himself
“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.” -Ray Bradbury