Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Courage to Submit

I'll be honest. The longer I'm a writer, the less courage I seem to have. When I first started writing and pursuing publication, I just assumed that what I wrote was excellent and one or even several savvy agents would offer representation immediately after reading my wonderful work of art. I sent out my first submissions with a naive and optimistic attitude -- two queries with two partials on the same day. And I waited. Every day, I just knew my phone would ring, with both agents telling me they just had to have more. Funnily enough -- though, it wasn't funny at the time --both rejections came on the same day. I was stunned. How could they not love my work? I'd shoved it under the nose of all my friends and family and they loved it. What was wrong with those agents?

Well, I won't take you through all of my rejections from agents and publishers, but needless to say, those two agents were just the beginning of many. Much to my shame, I'm finding myself less and less inclined to submit. I've heard over and over again, never submit anything less than your best. And I strive hard to do this, constantly revising and reworking this scene or that character. Sometimes I wonder if I'm really striving to improve it or am I procrastinating submitting because of the fear of rejection.

I know I can't sell without submitting and I know it takes courage, grit and stamina to stay in this business, whether you're a multi-published author or an unpublished wannabe. But that courage wavers and dwindles into a state of frozen inactivity when those rejections start coming in.

So what about you? How do you keep yourself motivated to keep submitting, in spite of rejections? And for those of you who are published, what made you continue to submit and refuse to give up, despite rejections?


Karen Beeching said...

The only thing I've found "helps" combat the rejection blues for me is to put more space between my submissions. I'll enter maybe four contests and send out to two editors. While waiting on all of those (the rejections), I'll start another piece.

For me, the rejections aren't as difficult as sorting through the advice I get from the editors (when they give it). Most of the time the advice will conflict with what the previous editor said, and the one before that, and then I'm not sure where to go with the work anymore.

I've been in stun mode for almost six months now.

Carla Swafford said...

My first rejection was dated November 20, 1992. It was from Silhouette. I believe this is before Harlequin bought them. Anyway, I have about 10 more rejections from that time to 1994. Then I gave up. Not writing, just submitting.

That was the time I found RWA and realized how much I needed to learn. But between working 12 hrs a day, 7 days a week and raising two children, I put that dream on hold until 2002. BTW, I didn't stop writing.

Then I decided I wasn't getting any younger and if I was going to do it, I better get serious about it. My motivation is pure selfishness. I want to be published. I want people to tell me how much they love my stories.

BUT, I never could do any of that without the help and support from my writing groups. From my chapters. From my friends who dream as I do.