As writers we strive and struggle to write the first draft, then we continue the battle into the edits, revisions and rewrites. After that we move to the next battle with writing the query letter and synopsis. Then finding the right agent to query, organizing everything and sending it off.
You would think after a solid year (or much much longer) of fighting we would be on the down hill slope.
You would be wrong.
This is where the real battle begins. When those rejection letters rolls in, we need to really make a decision. That diction will put your writing life on the line.
If you've done your homework then you'll probably be braced for the first ten maybe twenty rejections, but of course you hope that you'll be the exception and be accepted the first try.
One rejection arrives after another. Five, your still ok, a little disappointed, but ok. Ten, you start to have doubts, was it really that bad? Maybe I should rewrite the query. Fifteen, this has gone on way longer then you had expected, but you stick with it. Twenty, despair is hovering over your head, landing whenever you even glance at your email and you are scared to look at the mail box.
Now is the time that you make your decision. You really only have two choices, to live or to die:
You can look at your pile of rejections and let the despair sink deeper. Like a slow acting poison it will seep into you and take hold. You'll start writing less and less. That new idea probably sucks just as much as the last one. Why bother? It will just be rejected too. Soon you'll stop writing all together. And just like a plant with no sunlight your writing self will die.
Or you look at your pile of rejections, maybe cry a little, maybe buy a bottle of wine and pretend they don't exist for a day or two. But then you shake it off. You don't let the despair take root. Maybe this story doesn't work. That doesn't mean the next one wont. Or the one after that. Or the one after that. You sit down and start the battle all over again.
This is the difference between "writers" and those who have written a novel. A writer will keep going because that is what is in us. The love that will weather the darkest storm. I have a friend I talked to last week who has written a novel. He has come up against the wave of rejections and some poor choices. He confessed to me that he was frustrated and hadn't written anything in months. I fear that his writer self is already dyeing.
Being a writer is a battle and a joy. It's a pain and a relief. It will drive you crazy and sometimes it's the only thing that keeps us sane. That is the duality of writing. Of being a writer. It's not easy, but nothing worth fighting for is.
On another note, I've started a new story. 7k words so far. I'll have to put up a little word count widget to show my progress over the next few months.
Picture from SXC.com