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Thursday, March 28

Rejection. What Gives? As if Writing a Book Wasn’t Hard Enough, Right?

By Andrew Wood, @andrewtheauthor

Part of The Writer’s Life Series


JH: Writers face rejection every day, and some days are harder to face than others. Please help me welcome Andrew Wood to the lecture hall today to share his thoughts on rejection and how a writer can turn them to their advantage.


Andrew Wood’s first novel, Storm of Fury, was recently published through Inkshares. He’s been pursuing his dream job as a writer for five years, and devotes his time to writing novels and honing his craft. He loves stories, whether they be books, movies, video games or comics, and he’s always on the hunt for more. Andrew grew up on books like Redwall, the Wheel of Time and Harry Potter, and from stories like these his love of writing grew. Now he works full-time to tell the stories he has in his heart, and finally force them on to paper where they belong.

You can find him on Patreon under his name, where he releases monthly horror, fantasy and sci-fi short stories.

Twitter | Patreon

Take it away Andrew…

While I deal with the flaws and plot-holes and editing errors in my manuscripts on a daily basis, the last thing I need on my plate is the shadow of rejection. So, what is rejection? Some may know it as a creativity-killer, and others as definitive proof that they’re not good enough.

Rejection is a quick and certain way to drag any writer into a despair-laced trap, and once in its jaws, it can feel inescapable, no matter how you might wriggle and writhe. Rejection can come from many places, but the two most common sources for writers are from readers and business professionals. An agent might send you a cold, unfeeling rejection letter; they’re not interested in your work. It’s not the right fit for them. A reader might close your book unfinished. They didn’t like it.

Either outcome will send alarm bells ringing through your head, will give voice to doubt and worry, and before long you’ll have convinced yourself that you’re not good enough. The question is, when an author is faced with rejection, does it mean that these voices are right?

No.

Much like writer’s block or typos or negative feedback, rejection is a natural part of what it means to be an author. It’s a part of the cycle, a necessary step on your road to success. I know, from plenty of personal experience, that rejections sting, and no one wants to experience them, but they can help shape you into a better author tomorrow than you are today. To do this, I want you to keep three core truths in mind.



Truth 1. Rejection is a Reward


It’s true. While this might seem sort of a backward statement, you should look at your rejections through a different context. Did your friend not bother to finish your book? Congratulations; you have a book you felt was worth sharing. You put it into someone else’s hands. You exposed yourself to criticism, and it came as sharp and true as the edge of a knife, but it doesn’t change the fact that you put yourself out there. And you’ll do it again. And you’ll find someone who will love it.

The same goes for querying to agents. While there’s nothing fun about having agents turn away your work – and even less so if it’s a form, impersonalized response – this still means you have something complete and polished in your hands. Professionals looked at your work. That’s more than people who have never queried can say.

There is positivity through pain, and there is also learning. The business of writing is a matter of repetition. Through persistence, you’ll get through the pain and you’ll learn patience, and one day it will pay off.

Truth 2. Rejection is a Call to Action


Some things are a matter of opinion, but others aren’t. If you’re receiving nothing but an endless stream of rejections, it becomes likely that you’re not facing a flurry of similar opinions. Rather, there might be something fundamentally wrong with your process. Take a look at your work; use the lesson of a rejection to truly examine what you’re doing.

I’ve learned, and am still learning, that rejection is a call for evolution. Is there something wrong with your query letter? If you can’t see it, and agents still dismiss you, maybe there’s something you just can’t see. Change it up. If a reader doesn’t like a character or plot-point, if they think it drags down the story, maybe they’re right. Change it and see if you can get some improvement. If you don’t, start the cycle again.

The great thing about writing is that success is almost certainly inevitable. Through persistent evolution and stalwart perseverance, you can continue to improve, and one day you’ll find someone who falls in love with your work. Use your rejections to learn patience.

(Here's more on 5 Ways to Survive Rejection as a Writer)

Truth 3. Rejection isn’t the End


I find that hindsight is one of my most important writing tools. There are countless times when I’m writing that I get tied up in my own self-doubt and it becomes easy to convince myself to give up and not continue. However, once my manuscript is done, and I look back on it with fresh eyes, I can be more rational in my judgement. Does it need improvement? Certainly. Is it the end? Certainly not.

This applies to rejection too. A rejection letter might feel like a hammer blow against your chances at a career, but in hindsight it becomes a small, almost inconsequential hiccup in your journey. Singular rejections don’t mean as much as you might think they mean. Take advantage of their warnings and you’ll come out on top of them. Otherwise, there’s no reason to let them get to you.

Here is the most important thing to remember; it doesn’t matter if a thousand voices say no to you, so long as one says yes. That’s it. That’s all you need. And all you need to do is keep looking, and eventually you’ll find that one voice.

(Here's more on Pain, The Brain, Why Rejection Hurts and What You Can Do About It)

There seems to be a certain stigma when it comes to rejections, that it is a shameful thing that you should be embarrassed about. Curiously, I’ve found that this stigma mostly exists within my own head. It’s far easier to tell ourselves that we’ve completely failed than to admit that we can improve if only we put in the work to do so. There is nothing shameful about being rejected, not in writing, not anywhere in life. It’s a natural hurdle to overcome.

I try to wear my rejections proudly, not because they define me or my writing, but because they are opportunities I’ve given myself and that I do my best to take advantage of. One day, I’ll look back and see that they were all important cobblestones that paved my road to success. If you trip over them, and you fall, everything will be all right, so long as you get back up again.

About Storm of Fury

For as long as Kaven can remember, Lantrelia has been at war. Yet its foe is not flesh and blood, but the eternal rage of the god Na'lek. Incarnate in a mighty storm called the Fury, Na'lek's rage has butchered mankind by sending forth armies of supernatural monsters. Soon, the Fury's attacks will sweep humanity away.

Determined to become a war hero like his father, Kaven sets out on a treacherous quest to stop Na'lek. With only three companions to aid him, he plans to enter the heart of the Fury and face the god himself to plead for mankind's deliverance. Yet nothing can prepare Kaven for the truth he will encounter, for far greater forces are at work, and his quest, if successful, will come at great cost.

Will he put an end to Na'lek's storm of Fury and prove his worth to his father? Or is his duty to his fellow man more important, even if it means he is a failure as a son? Find out in this epic fantasy novel!

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