Writer’s Worst Fear

I don’t know about you, but the biggest thing I fear as a writer is the rejection letter. You’ve spent countless hours, months, or even years, chugging along, burning the proverbial midnight oil shaping a world. You’ve, hopefully, edited the hell out of the story, cut where necessary and polished it up and removed a lot of those twenty cent words, replacing them with their much more practical nickel counterparts. All that sweat and your baby is ready to meet the world. You go through the arduous task of typing pitches and, those dreaded query letters, and now our work is on its way. Now the waiting begins.

One day three or four weeks in the future, and only if our agent and publisher isn’t some hack douche, you get a response. Nine times out of ten you get a generic copy/pasted response, and every once and awhile an agent or editor will take pity and leave you some kind words. Every one of them are like a fucking dagger to the heart. I should be a pin cushion by now. Most people have given up by now. There are all kinds of stories about hundreds of rejection letters before getting an acceptance letter, but those stories don’t really mean anything, or help in grand scheme of things. All of your efforts were tossed aside, and in most cases your work wasn’t even read just your letter. It sucks but it is the nature of the business you’re trying to get into.

It’s all about validation. We all want our work to matter. We want someone to say hey, that book kicked ass. We want people to get it. Every artist craves this, and if they tell you they don’t care what people think, they just do art for themselves, well, they’re full of shit. We crave that validation almost as much as being able to make a living doing what we love.

For the longest time, every letter or email I received was like dying inside. I’d feel utterly depressed for days. I’d feel physical pain and the lowest kind of defeat. Sometimes it would take weeks to rebound. The last rejection I got was just a few days ago. But now there is a glaring difference. I’m published, self published, indie author extraordinaire. Sure it stung like a motherfucker, they still do but now I have perspective. Back to validation central.

I put The Creepers out there after eating a ridiculous amount of rejections, too many to count. Why? They all told me it wasn’t right, ‘it’s not for me’ and so on, but I knew I had a story, a good one at that. This is different than anything I’d written previous and it is better by leaps and bounds. So out into the ether it went and what a surprise. I started seeing people pay for my work and seek me out to tell me they enjoyed it. I’ve received fan art. People are already asking about a sequel. Almost three thousand people own my book.

Validation.

Royalty checks started rolling in today.

Double fucking validation.

And I did it all myself. It’s been a long painful, emotional journey, but I wouldn’t change it, though, I will continue to submit future stories to publishers. It’s that whole writer’s ego thing, a feather in the cap if you will. I’m not going to be the guy that doles out copious amounts of hope. That’s just not how things work, but I will say this. Let those rejections sting for a moment and then get rid of them and take your rage out on the keyboard. Writers . . . Keep writing!

Norm

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