Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, December 13, 2010

As I See It: If You Want to Succeed First You Must Fail

Getting rejected is part of paying the writerly dues, the "badge of courage." My favorite rejection came from a children's magazine-- a form rejection slip mailed to me with these words hand-written on it "try again." I treasured that one *yes! I do have talent!* and it kept me going on the writing journey.

Do you ever hesitate submit your polished manuscript due to fear of rejection? I wonder how many writers are not querying right now because of not wanting to ruin the holidays with a rejection. A rejection isn't a sign of failure, it's one person's response to your work. Go back & revise if necessary, resubmit and find more people. Someone just might like it enough to say yes!

My favorite writer scene in a movie is between the dad in Back to the Future and his future son, Marty. (I paraphrase some here) --

Marty: (reading his "dad's" story) This is really good! You should get this published!

His *future* dad: (cowering) Oh no, I could never do that. I couldn't take that kind of rejection.

And then the rest of the story-- Marty helps his dad gain courage and changes the course of his parents' lives, so in the final scene (present changed forever), his dad is now a best-selling novelist opening a case of his latest book.

I LOVE THIS! It's the story of *how to get published*-- don't be afraid of rejection! Write, revise and submit. Go for it! Be fearless. So what if you get a no? There are other options out there.

I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. Micheal Jordan 

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.  Robert F. Kennedy



47 comments:

  1. Someone once told me that every no only gets you closer to yes. For some reason, that has always resonated with me. Then, of course, there's always the tried and true: Failure will make success that much sweeter.

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  2. So true! I just watched that movie recently and thought exactly the same thing.
    I am not afraid of rejection that much, it just makes me write smarter.

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  3. Good advice, Karen. It's about believing you can do it and then doing it.

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  4. I feel better already ... thanks. As many times as I've fallen I should be on top of the world.

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  5. sorry, i hate rejection and it never gets easier for me, no matter what realm of my life it's in. it's one of the reasons i've decided to go indie publishing instead of traditional. it's also one of the things that keeps me from telling people i know or meet that i'm an author and "would you like to buy my book?" i know i need to get over it and i'm working towards that, but it's hard.

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  6. Rejection sucks, no doubt about it. You almost have to develop a masochistic sense of humor about it -- kind of a "Please, sir, may I have another" attitude.

    My favorite rejection (when I was querying agents) was the one who wrote back and said she liked my writing, but my book wasn't really her cup of tea, so she'd shown it to another agent at her agency. That agent apparently liked my writing, too, but her list was full and she wasn't looking to add to it. So I call it my two-for-one bonus rejection. *grin*

    The only thing you can be certain of is, if you don't keep trying, you'll never make it.

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  7. Just what I needed to hear as I prepare to send off a submission this week. I can't get published if I don't put myself out there!

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  8. Rejection is hard but a necessary evil in our business. I hate them, I cry, I eat too much chocolate, I commiserate with friends, and then I get right back to the keyboard and start working. I mean, what can you do? Except move forward.

    Just because the boat sinks doesn't mean you can't swim. (metaphorically speaking that is)

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  9. This is something I've been dealing with myself, the whole rejection thing is not fun, but I really like that you brought up that Back to The Future scene and I think that's a greatway to look at it: By having courage you will always succeed.

    Thanks for another inspiring post!

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  10. And a no is just one person's opinion. Can't succeed if you do nothing!

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  11. Someone said success isn't what happens when you get knocked down, but what you do when you get back up. Or something like that. Write. Submit. There's no other option.

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  12. Karen, this is good advice. I'll try to remember this from now on! I don't know why this is so hard for me to get, it's like I have a defeatist complex. One no and I think the whole world has died! Ah well, I'll keep working on it.

    I sent you an email just a few minutes ago : )

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  13. That's so true! I can't fathom the idea of not querying out of fear. I'd be scared NOT to. Because that would mean, erm, how would you EVER get started?

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  14. Great, great advice!!!! I really think it is so true. You can't succeed without the failure. We just have to keep going!

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  16. Hey, I just watched that movie a couple of weeks ago, and I can still hear the dad's tone of voice - so shy and mild. I love the ending scene.
    I haven't even begun to submit, but I'm inching closer and closer. :)

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  17. Received many rejections and though very disappointed at the time, I never got discouraged. It does make the acceptances so much better. Right now I have two stories and one novel out there...fingers still crossed.

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  18. Thanks for this reminder, Karen! I'm used to being rejected for my novels, but I have a short story that I'm having a terrible time getting up the guts to submit. Weird, huh? I submitted it once and it was rejected and I'm tempted to shelve it. After one rejection! I don't know what's wrong with me. But your post just motivated me to keep trying. Time to research other literary magazines. :)

    Amy

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  19. I didn't get into psych grad school on my first try and almost didn't get in for the second try, but damn it, perseverance will make you successful almost every time! I think I heard somewhere that Michael Jordan didn't make the freshman basketball team? He certainly bounced back BIG. Thanks for the post, Karen.

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  20. Failure is just a step on the path to success. Great post, Karen.

    You have an award at my blog.

    Jai

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  21. I would never "not" query out of fear. I have a job to do, and so do agents.

    Its like falling in love. The right one is out there somewhere; you just need to find them.

    So querying is like dating!

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  22. Great advice! I think I'd rather get rejected then not know what could have happened. I do still feel disappointed if someone rejects my writing, but at least I tried.

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  23. So true, Karen. A rejection is just a step along the way, not the end!

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  24. I loved this post. Especially the quotes at the end. I'm going to steal those!

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  25. Great post, Karen! There's another quote a friend of mine gave me about a month ago... I can't remember who said it (Edison?): If you're not afraid to fail, you can keep trying until you get it right." Fearless~ :o)

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  26. I haven't tasted multiple rejections yet, but I'm not scared. I guess I'm a believer of 'what happens, happens.' If I try my hardest and put myself out there, if it's meant to be then I'll find that one perfect agent. If it doesn't work out, it's time to try again. That's what you do when it's your dream, your goal, something you want more than any physical material or flux of emotions. You try until you CAN'T anymore. And that's my plan.

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  27. What a wonderful pep talk. Thank you for that Karen. I have a fear of failure, but I think I am finding the path to overcoming it. Of course you can't succeed unless you try.

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  28. Ann, And try, and try, and try....

    Jessica, What a great attitude! With that plan you can't help but succeed.

    Leigh, Truly the fear of failure is self-defeating behavior when it stops someone from even trying. Edison is a great example of someone who kept at it until he got it right!

    Melissa, You're welcome to them!

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  29. Karen, this post is awesome! And I love that quote by Michael Jordan.

    I don't shy away from submitting. Sure, I fear rejection, but not enough to keep my material to myself. You just never know!

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  30. Our beliefs about ourselves as writers can be our greatest impediment - or our most powerful asset.

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  31. Who said "The only failure is the failure to try?" It's a good quote.

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  32. Thank you for this wisdom!



    Aloha from Hawaii

    Comfort Spiral

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  33. I didn't query over the holiday season but only because I know several agents and editors are "clearing the desk." However, that being said, I know of one gal in one of my writing loops who queried last week and got requests for three fulls! Now she is working hard!

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  34. This is great, Karen--It's so true. I'm not submitting right now because the WiP has a little more work and I don't want to catch all the agents on holiday, but I hear January is one of the best months for submission there is!

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  35. Great post, Karen. A lot of authors fail because they don't take the emotional risks to put their books out there.

    CD

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  36. u are right but its still so hard. oh Karen you are so right!

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  37. Rejection is tough, no doubt about it, but it does help you grow as a writer. I have a pile of rejection letters but with every one I just think 'getting closer!' (After I pick myself up off the floor!)

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  38. Great advice. Those of us with similar hang-ups can relate with George McFly. I think I feel a New Year's resolution coming on.

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  39. Ah! I had forgotten that part of one of my favorite movies! Thanks for the reminder. MCFLY!!!

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  40. Good advice for sure!
    It seems a long ways away...

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  41. Great advice, as always,and so true! And here was my mother's favorite, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

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  42. Great post and great quotes (including the paraphrased Back to the Future!). Every failure brings you one step closer to success.

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  43. Great quotes and GREAT post! It's true--the "R" hurts, but you can't get a "yes" without trying!

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  44. Good question! In general I just grit my teeth and submit... although there are one or two magazines whose mission I admire but where I haven't submitted fiction yet because I'm too apprehensive of getting a response back saying that I've inadvertently sent them something offensive (which would cut particularly deep because I believe in what the editors are trying to do). I need to get over that, I know...

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