Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rejected Rockstars: Great Writers Who've Gotten the Boot


"Why you gotta be so rude?"

Just for fun, and because we all need a little pick-me-up every now and then, I've decided to compile a list of amazing authors who've seen more rejection than a lot of us who are just starting out in the querying process. 

In the beginning, each and every rejection (or lack of response) can feel so personally brutal. I find that it helps to defer to the greatness of writers who have already blazed these trails. I find their stories so inspirational because they were able to continue submitting their work time and again, even after people told them that their ideas sucked. 

Doing this research made me more convinced than ever that persistence and self-confidence are probably two of the most important traits that a writer can have. So without further ado, my picks for rejected rockstars:

1. Carrie, by Stephen King - Rejected 30 times.
2. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer - Rejected 14 times. 
3. And to Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, by Dr. Seuss - Rejected 27 times.
4. Meg Cabot - Rejected so many times she can no longer lift her bag of rejection letters. 
5. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger - Rejected 25 times. 
6. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett - Rejected 60 times. 
7. The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks - Rejected 24 times. 
8. Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling - Rejected 12 times. 

Lessons learned: Whether the rejection comes from a literary agent or publisher, it goes to show that people have opinions and tastes that do not necessarily reflect the vast market that is out there waiting to read your book! So keep trying. Believe in yourself and keep count of those rejections! One day you may also be a reject turned rockstar. ;)

Sources: If you'd like to find more rejected rockstars, look at these two awesome sites.
Onehundredrejections.com
LiteraryRejections.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Memories of a newspaper staff writer and why I learned to bite


You know the saying, her bark was worse than her bite? Well let me tell you something. When I started writing for my student newspaper's Arts & Entertainment section, I was eager to jump in head first. The only problem was that the ideas I was pitching either weren't accepted by my editor or once I'd finished writing them, they got rejected for the print version. I was like a little yapping dog who wanted to play, but no one would take me seriously.

Don't get me wrong, a few of them did finally make it to print, and I did understand that the A&E section had a huge space issue. Most of it usually went to the "hardcore" news, not so much what movies people were watching that weekend. But when I started to analyze the pieces that were making it into the paper, I realized that most of them were written by a select handful of writers who had more...bite... than I did.

What I mean by that is they had this sort of sharp wit and sarcasm that I felt that I was lacking. They didn't simply recap or praise the student production of Hair, they tore into it! They threw in every zinger they had in them, even if it meant actually insulting people from time to time.

I started to wonder, if I'm going to get myself noticed around here...do I need to start biting?

Soon after I pondered this, I was asked to recap the VMAs. That was the year that Britney Spears had her "comeback" and Russell Brand made his debut in America. I remember thinking, how am I going to set my voice apart? As a result, the piece I ended up with was little more than a string of insults that I felt were witty and clever enough, but I didn't actually mean.

In truth, I felt a little guilty about some of the things I was saying. Sure, they're celebrities and they've seen their fair share of criticism. But to me, it was about more than that. It wasn't me. I'm really not the sort of person to put others down, and my preference will always be to praise rather than ridicule. Even if that does mean a slightly less interesting news article.

The funny thing is that my "zinger" wasn't even published in the print version and shortly after that, I did get a few of my pieces in -- ones that weren't laden with unnecessary criticism!

In the end, I learned that some dogs aren't meant to bite. Some are just meant to curl up on the couch and cuddle with you...and tell you you're awesome. Because you are.



Friday, September 5, 2014

Writing Goals: September

I've seen a lot of writers participating in this monthly goal challenge and thought I'd weigh in. Not only is it fun to share, but declaring your goals publicly keeps you somewhat accountable as well.

This month I'd like to get 1/3 of the way through the first draft of my novel.

Is it a lofty goal? I'm not sure...I've known other writers who seem to be able to write an entire draft in a weekend flat and sometimes I feel a bit on a slow side. However, since writing is not my full time job I feel that 3 months is a decent goal for me. Since some writing days are much more productive than others, this allows me those occasions when writing day are disturbed or completed thrown out the window. Hey, life happens. 

What's your September goal? I'm also very curious to know how quickly everyone else writes. Is 3 months for a first draft reasonable?


Collected Works Blog Link Up-September 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Writers: How to Drive Yourself Crazy in 4 Simple Steps

We all need a little crazy sometimes, right? Well fear not. I've compiled a list of easy to follow instructions that will get you well on your way to that mini meltdown. Let's get started!

1. Set an unrealistic deadline - Why give yourself enough time to finish that project? Take that deadline and cut it in half right now! Five chapters this week? Make it ten! After all, how do you think those "overnight" success stories happened anyway? With a big cup of coffee and an all night writing session, that's how!

2. Put pressure on yourself - The more, the better! Focus on that unrealistic deadline and squeeze your creative juices dry trying to accommodate it. Let the stress flow through you, my friend.

3. Compare yourself to others - Why are there so many writers out there making great money while you're still stuck on revising your first novel? Wonder to yourself why other writers tweets are so much wittier than yours. Why not just change yourself, so you sound more like them!

4. Doubt yourself - If someone says your writing sucks, believe them. After all, they know exactly what they're talking about. Aunt Sue may be in pediatrics, but she reads a lot. Take every review and every criticism word for word and let them sink in until you inevitably figure out that writing's just not for you. Hey, we're not all cut from the cloth!

So remember...

Keep that chin down & stay cynical - The world is telling you that books are dead, people don't read and the success rate for writers is abysmal. So why even try? Just give up, already. Save yourself a lot of heartache and more importantly, a lot of work. Lie back, sip a mojito and enjoy your newfound time.

Oh, so you're not looking to drive yourself crazy? Well this is awkward...Alright, just do the opposite of everything I just said.