Today author Rachel Weaver (Point of Direction) joins us at Write from the Inside Out to share her tips on writer rejection. Rachel is an author, editor and educator who lives in the Denver area. As writers, we all get rejected and it’s definitely part of the job. As a result of her talent and persistence, Rachel caught the attention of Oprah Magazine who described Point of Direction as a “strikingly vivid debut novel.” Enjoy and thank you again, Rachel, for this insightful guestpost!
In the mornings as a kid, my mom was always rushing to get us fed and get herself to work and us to school and get that last load of laundry thrown in and so, more often than not, one side of the pancakes would often be burned while the other side was a perfect golden brown. So, she would put the burnt side down on our plates, the golden side up, slather it in syrup, slide the plates in front of us and rush off to whatever next task had to be completed before 7:30 a.m. As writers, we have the same situation.
For every golden brown pancake we create, there’s usually a bit of charring on the other side caused by rejection. It is all part of the writing process that is maybe not talked about enough among beginning writers. And so what follows is a list of things to help writers deal with the charred side of the pancake in the same way my mom did, which was to notice it, but never to dwell on it.
- Expect it. All writers are rejected by various magazines, agents, and editors in the course of their career. It’s an integral part of the process. It’s not awesome, but it’s not the end of the world. Don’t take it personally, just keep your head down and continue to get better at your craft. Keep writing. Ignore the outliers and pay attention to any patterns you notice in the rejections. If you are hearing over and over again, “I just couldn’t attach to your main character”, time to dive in and better develop that character, even if you think your character is clearly attachable.
- Play the numbers. On average, every short story I have published has been rejected forty times before being accepted somewhere. My novel, Point of Direction (which was eventually included in Oprah Magazine’s list of Ten Titles To Pick Up Now) was rejected by over 100 agents before the most wonderful agent in the world picked it up. Don’t give up after a few rejections or even a ton of rejections.
- Find someone in your life who will say, every time you get rejected from a really famous magazine or by a really fabulous agent, “Oh her? I’ve never liked her, you don’t want to work with her anyway.”
- View it as training. After awhile, the rejections from magazines, agents and editors don’t sting as much, it just becomes a part of the writing process which results in a thick skin. This will serve you well when you publish a book and anyone with a computer and an internet connection can say what they think of it on Amazon.
- Work hard and ignore most of the commentary. You know when you’ve done your best work. Don’t put anything out in the world that falls short of that. Don’t be afraid to write early drafts that are a disaster, but then don’t be afraid to stick with the revision process until every scene has been reviewed and rewritten and tied tightly to all the others and every character has been shined up to be their most unique selves. Once the book or short story is out there, let it be, help it along when you can, but immerse yourself in the next writing project and keep pushing at the boundaries of what your next best work can be.
Rachel Weaver is the author of the novel Point of Direction, which Oprah Magazine described as a “strikingly vivid debut novel.” In his review on NPR’s All Things Considered, Alan Cheuse described the novel as one that “pulls you in.” Point of Direction was chosen by the American Booksellers Association as a top ten debut for Spring 2014, by IndieBound as an Indie Next List Pick, and by Yoga Journal as one of their top five suggested summer reads. Prior to earning her MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University, Rachel worked as a biologist for the Forest Service in Alaska studying bears, raptors and songbirds. She currently teaches fiction at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver and is also a writing mentor and editor-for-hire. For more information about Rachel, check out her website.
Check out the book trailer for Point of Direction at: