Karen White, author of the newly released On Folly Beach to The Book Chick! If you missed my review, you can read it here. Today Karen guest blogs about the rejection that all writers must inevitably deal with:
"As the mother of two teenagers, I deal with the dreaded “R” word just about every day. Pretty much every gesture on my part (a smile, a warm greeting, an attempt at a hug) is greeted with a rejection (a scowl, a grunt, a brush-off). And, to top it off, my daughter is a senior in high school and it’s April—the month that colleges send their acceptances, and rejections, to hopeful future enrollees. Our collective stress in this house is worse than that of a long-tailed cat in a rocking chair factory.
But I’m a writer. I know rejection. I’d like to think I could tell my children a little bit about dealing with it. Like they would listen. So I figured I’d write down what I know in the hopes that maybe one day, when they’re older and somewhat wiser, my words might reach them. And that I might have the chance to say, “I told you so.”
Rejection hurts. It’s like a fist to the solar plexus regardless of how many times we tell ourselves that it isn’t personal. But it is. Whether it’s being told by a big university that you’re not wanted or by an editor that they won’t publish your “baby”, it’s personal.
I sold my first four books easily. I found my agent by submitting my first novel into a contest and my agent was the finalist judge. She sold my book to the second publisher she sent it to. But after my fourth book, I was dropped by my publisher. I will always liken my early publishing career as going to the prom with the dorky, pimply boy. It wasn’t a great match, but at least I was going to the prom! I really never wanted to write for that last publisher, and had taken the offer because I was afraid that there wouldn’t be any others. And then, suddenly, even the dorky, pimply boy didn’t want me.
I was devastated. I cried every day. I considered quitting. A friend sent me a little figurine that still hangs on my desk lamp. It has a little inscription on it: “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” I knew what she was trying to say to me, and I knew she was right. But I still felt like such a failure.
My daughter is an equestrian and I’ve watched her take some pretty bad spills. But she always gets back in the saddle, no matter how badly she’s been hurt. I figured she had to have learned that somewhere, right? Maybe if I refused to climb back in the writing saddle, I’d be teaching her the worst lesson of her life. Maybe my failure wasn’t so much in the rejection, but in my believing in it more than I believed in my abilities.
So I brushed off another manuscript idea and started writing. And writing. I submitted it to my agent and she submitted it to publishing houses and sold it to my dream publisher, Penguin Publishing Group. And the whole irony of it all is that if I hadn’t been dumped by my previous publisher, I’d never have had the opportunities in my career that I have had since. Amazing how that works, isn’t it?
My daughter is bright and I know she’ll be successful wherever she ends up. I know she doesn’t believe that right now because she’s been waitlisted at her top two school choices. She’s devastated. I’ve tried to tell her that I understand how she feels, but it doesn’t help. Only time will show her that where she ends up is where she was meant to be all along. Even John Grisham was rejected eight times before he finally got a publisher’s attention.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that rejection is good for you. But it is a wonderful teaching tool; teaching perseverance, will, and faith in yourself. And that whatever doesn’t kill us will certainly make us stronger. I can only hope that I will be around to see my children succeed despite themselves and tell them, “I told you so.”"
Thank-you so much for stopping by, Karen! And now for the giveaway: I have two copies of On Folly Beach to give away, courtesy of Joy at Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting. To enter:
1. Post a comment here and tell me how you feel about rejection: does it get you down, or do you try to learn from it? Please include an e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win. No e-mail= no entry!
2. *Bonus Entry* For one bonus entry, become a follower of this blog through Google Friend Connect and leave me a seperate comment to let me know that you are now a follower. Current followers are eligible as well, just be sure to leave me a sepearate comment letting me know that you already follow.
3. *Bonus Entry* For one bonus entry, spread the word about this contest in some way. Tweet about it, blog about it, or add it to your sidebar, just leave me a comment letting me know what you did!
This contest is open to residents of both the US and Canada, and runs until May 30, 2010 at midnight. Winners will be contacted by e-mail after this date and will have 48 hours to respond. Good luck!