site stats
Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Friday, June 23, 2006

Your Writing Gives Me A Headache

By Jill Monroe

I was agonizing over what I should write about for my WNP blog, when one of my friends suggested I talk about the rejections I received before publishing.

There are a lot of an urban legends about the writer whose first book sold. They never got a rejection. Every agent wanted to represent her. Bidding wars from publishers. The final offer was so high Publishers Lunch had to coin a new term.

Yes, somewhere there is an author out there like her. That's not my story.

After joining Romance Writers of America, one of the first things I did was enter my very first manuscript into a contest. I remember the jolt of excitment I felt when I spotted my return envelope in the mailbox. I tore the top off so I could read the comments and see the scores.

In a word: AWFUL. In fact, one of the judges said I should spring for the Tylenol since my writing gave her a headache. That comment really hurt, and I actually didn't write for a while. (I'm sure this judge thinks that's a good thing.)

I also had another judge write B/S in the margins of my contest entry, but that's another story.

This is a business filled with rejections, and yes, hurtful comments.

Of course I want everyone to love my books. Logically, I know that's just not going to happen. And yes, that's a whole lot easier to say than to believe, feel and become active in your psyche.

Sadly, the world is just not ready for my first book called A Political Affair - and never will be. (Yeah, everyone wants to read a sweeping romance about political corruption with writing where even the dog has a point of view. Think Woodward and Bernstein and one of them is a woman. You choose.)

A fellow noodler posted a link to agent Kristen Nelson's blog. Nelson gives a lot of interesting persepctives few authors probably ever heard before blogs. She also makes me want to dash off and see what's playing on MY iPod (Which is the Foo Fighters).

Being an agent, Nelson has to dish out rejections. The correct response (if one is warranted) to an agent rejection is, "Thank you for your time." What I found amazing when reading Nelson's blog is that people will argue with her. Check out her post When You Feel The Response Urge—Don’t

So what is the correct response to a rejection?

The other correct response for me was to say (and I caution - this is in your head) "Oh yeah?" After the appropriate amount of chocolate (of course) you roll up your sleeves and write something even better. The best, most original thing you've ever done. Don't keep reworking the same old same old. Do something new. I have 9 manuscripts completed. Two are published. Three I've decided I should burn. The rest are in some stage in between.

(Also send out more queries, make a notes if the agent offered advice and keep a record of if you should query this agent again in the future - bookkeeping is also important.)

Call this a flaw in my personality - I can't accept a pass. After that first rejection from Harlequin, I wrote even more. If your writing gives someone a headache, vow the next book will give someone a smile.

But don't ever give up.

Don't ever stop because of rejection.


At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the motivating post, Jill!

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Erica Orloff said...

I sold my first novel . . . and it sold within a couple of weeks to Red Dress Ink, so I never had to go through some of the various agonies I hear about--but I so utterly admire the authors who never gave up--THEY have the best stories.
That said, I think it's utterly appalling that judges in a contest feel the need to be snarky. It's disgusting. In life, you should inspire and try to point people in some sort of positive direction. Truly a pathetic way to judge . . . as if to judge means to sit in JUDGMENT. Anyway . . . what goes around . . . you know?

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

you sound like such a nice person, I'll forgive you for selling your first book in a couple of weeks! Right on about the judging.

Jill, I like your attitude!
Never Never Never Give Up --Winston Churchill

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Sandy Blair said...

Erica, I couldn't agree more.

I once received a contest critique on A MAN IN A KILT in which the pub'd author started with, "Where did you get these awful names?" (It went down hill from there) and the book was later a National Readers Choice Award and Golden Heart winner.

I've since come to the conclusion that 1.) Judges opinions are like...mouths, everyone has one, and 2.) NEVER would I hurt an aspiring writer in such a hurtful manner when I became a judge. There's simply no excuse or place for rudeness or snark in a professional contest.

At 7:20 PM, Blogger Heather Dawn Harper said...

Constructive, not Destructive.

It should be a requirement to judge. IMO.

At 3:42 AM, Blogger Shawn said...

See, this is why you are one of my author heroes. It's like you read my mind and blogged about it. Writing is one of the most diffucult things I've ever done. I've never had to work for anything. (sad, but true) So after years of things just being handed to me, I really thought I would sit down and joila! The offers would start rolling in. I've learned this is a process, my process and I'm learning to value each step of my journey and leave others to theirs. Thanks again Jill. You rock!

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Mike Mazzo said...

I'm glad you kept on writing.

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Glad you guys liked the post.

It's really hard NOT to judge your writing progression aginst others near you because this writing community is just so small - but you just can't do it.

AND the published judge who said my writing gave her a headache... I see her at conferences a lot!

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Wow, Jill. Great post! Since you see the judge who said that your writing gave her a headache, does that mean she actually signed her name on the contest sheet?! Most judges seem to be cruel. This is why it's so important for writers to always believe in their stories and themselves.

At 9:04 PM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Theresa - yes she did sign her name. I've often thought about slipping her one of those packets of tylenol, but I wonder if she'd even remember.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]