Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Writer Wrejection

The Resilient Writer from Catherine Wald is a terrific book for seeing how the guys who've made it, er . . . made it. She interviewed 23 top authors and compiled their stories in one volume for the rest of us to both heed and take heart.

Her interview with Chris Bohjalian (Midwives) garnered this nugget: "At some point, you go from taking pride that you're sending your material out, to fear. At around number two hundred fifty, I began to stop taking pride in this wall of rejections that I had built, and I began to wonder if I was ever going to sell anything."

And this one: "Every novelist's first or second, or even third novel is an apprentice work that should probably never be published. It's the same way that a concert pianist never goes directly to Carnegie Hall; you've got years and years of practice first."

I'm also reading James Scott Bell's new book for those of us who are trying to figure out the pieces of this endeavor, The Art of War for Writers.

Bell's chapter 8 has more highlights than any other chapter I've read so far. It's about the kinds of fear we face as writers.

" . . . Fear of not being good enough; of not getting published; of getting published and not selling; of getting published once and never again; of getting stomped by critics (even those within your own family)."

He closes the chapter out with some concrete things we can do:

"1. Determine that you will act as if you have no fear. Act as if you are a successful writer. Don't do this with arrogance, but with determination.

2. Don't wait for your feelings to change; turn fear into energy for writing. . . .

3. Set writing goals that challenge you. . . . "

Neither of these are books on craft, but they are filled with the kind of details and inspiration we all can use on a daily basis.

OT: I'm sitting at my nearby Border's Cafe, trying to get some work done. There are a few quiet people here, intent either on their own laptops, or reading. But there is a group in the corner who are talking in Spanish. Quietly, but it's still kind of weird. This is when I wish I'd kept up with my Spanish lessons last year rather than making it a resolution for this year.

I'm such a snoop.

CR: Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein. At the moment I'm bogged down in one of the biggest information dumps I've ever seen. Although it's interesting, I'm wondering how much of it is going to actually be meaningful to the story.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I think I should be reading Art of War too. Thanks.

  2. Sheila, you will love it. The chapters are so wonderful and short, you can read them in a quick few minutes before you begin your writing time.

    Jim Bell is one of those writing coaches you can really respect because he plays the game. No sideline pontificating for that one!

  3. As you've said, Peg, if you're not getting rejected, you're not playing the game. When I write I go into that delusional place where rejection doesn't exist. For me, compartmentalizing is key...I can revise once I've come back to earth and realize it's flawed indeed.

  4. Oh man, Jenny. You are so right. If I even considered the "r" word while I was trying to craft a story I would be on my knees all the time. Not in prayer (though I would certainly pray) but in front of the toilet.

  5. Thanks for some interesting points!