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Thursday, April 14

Share--Don’t Waste--Your Talent

By Julie Musil, @juliemusil

Part of the Indie Author Series 

 Let’s play the “what if” game, shall we?

What if John Newton, author of the beloved hymn Amazing Grace, kept his thoughts and words to himself? What if he read through those pages, called himself a fool, and then ripped them to pieces?

What if Steve Jobs kept his ideas to himself? What if he tinkered in his garage, creating gadgets that made his own life better, but never summoned the courage to put them on the open market?

What if the inventors of the wheel, electricity, and the lightbulb had a spark of an idea, but stuffed their dreams down? What if they told themselves their inventions were stupid, crazy, not worth anyone’s time?

The world would’ve kept on spinning without these marvels, but imagine how different our lives would be.

Now, what if you have a cool idea? You take a deep breath and courageously pen a piece of work that’s original and fresh. You devour writing advice and tips for getting published. You take a ginormous leap of faith and send that work out to critique partners and freelance editors. Then you take a step that strikes fear in the heart of all writers--you query agents and publishing houses. Rejections pile into your inbox, or you hear nothing but crickets. You tweak your query and bravely send out more. You bite your nails and wait...and wait...and wait.

While you’re waiting, doubt slithers into your mind. You doubt that your idea was any good in the first place. You doubt your abilities as a writer. You wonder why in the heck you ever thought you could pull this off.

Doubt turns to disappointment. Disappointment turns to despair. Despair often leads to giving up on this whole writing thing completely.

My advice to you? Share your talent, don’t waste it.

“But wait,” you may say. “I have zero talent. Agents and editors have rejected my manuscript.”

Just because gatekeepers don’t want to publish it doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Agents and editors passed on The Martian.

Now, I’m not saying that your manuscript, or mine, equates with The Martian. I’m not saying our work holds the same importance as Amazing Grace, the iPhone, or the wheel. What I am saying is that it does no one any good if your work stays on your hard drive.

If we create something from the heart that we think is meaningful and important, our natural inclination is to share it. That’s why we care so much about the finished product, and why it hurts so darn much when we toss our work into the digital wind, only to have it fly back in our faces.

I’ve read manuscripts that are clever, beautiful, and funny that have been rejected. I don’t blame agents and editors for this. They have lists to fill, deadlines to hit, and dollars to make. They’re doing their jobs the best they can.

But nowadays, those rejections don’t have to be the end of a good story. Heck, we can even choose to ignore the whole “tossing queries into the wind” part of publishing.

Indie publishing has opened new doors for writers who are willing to do the hard work of creating a sellable product for an ever-growing reading public. We have the opportunity to invest in ourselves and our stories, and test them on the open market.

Each of us has a voice. We have ideas and stories that demand to be shared with others. If I’m able to share my stories with people who choose to read them, and those people experience escape, joy, and even a wee bit of fear, then I’m content.

You have talent. You have dreams. You have a desire for others to read your work. You’re probably curious about how your book would fare on the open market. There’s only one way to find out, right?

Do yourself and your future readers a favor--share, don’t waste, your talent.

Have you ever considered throwing in the towel after receiving rejection after rejection? Are you indie publishing now? Are you considering it, but you’re unsure if you’ve got what it takes? Please share! 

Julie Musil writes from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her Young Adult novels, The Summer of Crossing Lines and The Boy Who Loved Fire, are available now. For more information, or to stop by an say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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  1. Well said! I was at a SCBWI conference in LA a few years ago wherein the theme sounded to me like 'don't stop!' I've done real estate agency, and I can state that rejection is just a normal part of success. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Steve, you make a great point--it's so true with any industry! And with any industry, we become better at what we do when we don't give up.

  2. Replies
    1. Jeff, I've read your work on your blog. You have talent! Nurture that seed, allow it to grow and blossom. Don't give up!

  3. Yes. I have thrown in the towel on an MS that I've worked on for years. After the last no reply rejection, I've run out of steam on the story. It's sad because your words struck home. I wrote from my heart,everyone I shared the story with was affected by it and liked it, yet no one would publish it. After 17 rejections, I've stuck it in a drawer and I'm trying to move forward and work on other things. It's like grieving the death of a loved one. Sadly I no longer have the passion for the story I once did. Even though rejection is part of the game, it does wear one out. To continue to try and write after rejection is not only courageous but tests everything you think you have as a writer.

    1. Najah, I feel ya. Let me say two things: 1) I've heard of writers getting 100 rejections before "the one." 17 isn't many at all! 2) if you truly love the story, don't give up on it. Perhaps after you've had some time away from it, your love for it will be renewed. Good luck!

  4. A very encouraging post! I agree that lost of writers go through rejection everyday, either from agents or readers. I think it best to take rejections as something to learn from and something that can actually help you grow.

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  5. Thanks for post. Every scrid of encouragement helps... I stopped writing for about 10 years after a nf ms I wrote for a publisher then publisher went under, it got me pretty down. I started fiction writing because I wanted to have a reason to get up in the morning, then I started indie publishing my books. Yay on that solution. I figure as long as people buy my books that's good some. But I wrote for years just to write because I love writing so much. (So there rejecters and nay-sayers!)

    1. Sara, yay for you! It's nice that we don't have to give up a publishing dream. We have the power to make those dreams come true on our own.

  6. What a wonderful post! At this point, I long for the rejection emails, at least it's better than the crickets and wondering if the email was actually read by a human. Looks like it might be the self-pub route. It's tough to give everything you have to create your baby and then never have it see the light of day.

    1. Linda, we no longer have to let all that hard work go to waste. I wish you lots of luck on your publishing journey.

  7. I loved this post! Particularly this, "Each of us has a voice. We have ideas and stories that demand to be shared with others." Thank you for the encouragement. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

  8. It doesn't do anyone any good to hide their talents. Get your stuff out there, and don't let anyone stop you. Good stuff, Julie.

  9. Yes, yes, and yes to all the inspiration in your message! We are fortunate to be writing at a time when there are so many avenues for sharing our stories. Julie you are a steely eyed missile man (sorry couldn't resist The Martian reference)

  10. I'm glad my main problem right now is finishing the book. The thought of what comes after gives me a headache ...