Writing through Rejection
Linda Lee Kane
I released my first book in June of 2014. By the end of this year, I’ll have ten books on the shelves. But along the way, there were rejections. A lot of them. Nine years’ worth, to be precise. And that’s just before I was published (because, yes, I’ve had rejections since then, too).
How many rejections can you pile up in nine years? I stopped keeping track, but it was certainly over one hundred. They came on one manuscript after the next because, obviously, I didn’t quit. I also couldn’t keep shopping the same book (although my debut was a rewrite of an early manuscript – I’ll get back to that).
So how did I keep my enthusiasm for writing when agents and editors alike kept saying “no?” It wasn’t easy. There were definitely days (weeks, months) when I wondered why I was giving up so much of my free time to write books, going straight from a day job (in the beginning) to my computer over and over again with nothing to show for it (or at least, no book deal).
Partly it’s because I’m stubborn, I’m determined, and this was my dream. And I think that’s important, because after nine years (or even a few months where you’re dedicating time to a book instead of other things), there are going to be people who suggest you focus on other things. And when they do, perhaps you should remind them that Agatha Christie had five years of constant rejections only to end up with more than $2 billion in sales, or that Louis L’Amour had 200 rejections before becoming his publisher’s best-selling author ever.
But that’s the big picture. Sometimes the hardest part is putting your butt in the chair day after day, chasing after a goal that seems subject to the whims of editors, agents, and the market. It’s feeling motivated to keep working on a new book when nothing you’ve done before seems to be working. That’s when you need to remember why you’re doing it, and hopefully it’s because you love writing.