Sunday, January 23, 2011


When my eight year old godson* broke his arm, his mother told him he would have to go to physical therapy. He was aghast. "Therapy?" he yelled. "I don't want to go to therapy. I don't want to talk about my feelings!"

Writing for publication is an amazing process, one which comes filled to overflowing with new sensations. The psychedelic blur of those days when you sit down to write and a whole new world pours out of you. The scratching against the inside of the skull sensation of a new concept or twist. The face-numbing elation of the first glowing critique or request for a full.

And then come the bad feelings. The way your chest clenches with that first rejection. And the second. And the third. The sinking heat of a condescending critique, in person. The curdling of your dreams when a book filled with adverbs, prologues**, wilteclichés and an ending that can be seen from a continent away hits the bestseller lists. And silence, the dreaded silence from formerly-enthusiastic beta readers, or agents, or editors.

When these things happen, you have many options. Some of them will feel like your right, or even your privilege. I have no doubt you've earned the right to complain. Others have already spoken eloquently about why this is not a good idea, why you can end up hurting yourself when you're already down.***

I say: commiserate to your heart's content with your fellow malcontents. :) I've done it myself a time or two. But do it in the curtained booth in the back of the Internet, somewhere prying eyes can't quite glimpse you. And, after that, fall back and regroup. Remember why you began this journey. Because you once loved writing. Because you once wrote to entertain yourself. Because you once read a book or watched a movie that didn't have a sequel but should have, so you wrote one yourself. Because you once startled yourself with a beautiful sentence. Because you once created a character that someone could fall in love with.

Good luck, and good writing to you.

*He's not really my godson, and I'm not sure what age he was, or whether it was his arm he broke, but those were his very words.

**No, I don't know why there would be more than one either. It's madness, I tell you, madness!

***Damien Walters Grintalis recently blogged about it here.


  1. Feels good to read this...even for those of us not yet querying, but dealing with less-than-stellar feedback from readers or instructors.

  2. I'm glad to hear that, Alison.

    One must grow a thicker skin to be able to digest even good criticism, and to survive the game in the long run. But getting caught up in a cycle of negativity does little except prolong the disappointment or pain.

  3. A very moving post. Thanks for the reminder that it helps to look at the why before starting on the publishing cycle. Piecing back together enthusiasm for a project is hard after rejection.

  4. It's impossible not to take rejection personally. Actually, and I'm not sure how this works for you, I was more hurt by my first few writing rejections than by any relationship rejections or employment rejections I've ever had. Funny how much depends on a handful of words.