If You Want to Write: How to Handle Rejection

Unless you have never left your house, you know what rejection feels like. It’s gut wrenching. Your heart hurts. There’s a lump in your throat. And when you’ve poured yourself into a manuscript, only to receive a rejection letter, how do you pick up the pieces and move on?

In this chapter, Ueland shows the difference between what she considers ‘good’ writing and ‘better’ writing. In her opinion, it’s all about the way in which you tell your story. I learned it’s purely subjective. What one thinks is compelling and well-written another may find boring and mediocre.

That’s the trick to overcoming rejection letters. It’s a matter of opinion. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer or that your manuscript sucks; it just means your work is not what that publisher is looking for.

“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.”

― Barbara Kingsolver

So, what can you do to keep looking? Here are a 10 tips:

  • Never give up. Keep sending, writing, and sending.
  • Remember that a lot of crap and awesome stuff gets published. I bet you’ve come across a book and thought, “I could have done better than this.”
  • Be yourself. Let your natural gifts shine and show passion in what you do. If you’re excited, others will be too.
  • Blog/write about it. Writing about your submission experiences can be therapeutic and help others get through their own obstacles. Be open and honest.
  • Be realistic. Ever heard “Don’t quit your day job”? Follow that advice and don’t expect to become a star overnight.
  • Do your research and get creative. Send it to lesser-known publishers, too. Follow all the rules and guidelines per submission, and have fun. It doesn’t matter who publishes it as long as it’s available.
  • Release it in parts on a blog and build an audience and followers. Readers are loyal, and if they love the story, they’ll stop and read it.
  • Self publish an e-book. Amazon is a well-respected rite. You never know what will happen.
  • Set up a Kickstarter campaign and get the word out. People love contributing to these projects, and I was a small contributor to this one: Apocalypse Now. It was a cool experience and works!
  • If you’re set on going the traditional route, then save some money and contact a publisher. For a fee, they may publish and distribute the book for you.

With these in mind, I’d like to give a shout out to my good pal Kevin who recently published his first novel, Crazy Lucky Dead. It was a great project to work on, and I hope you all will check it out!

Read about how to start your own blog, and share any tips you have below!

If You Want to Write: Be Reckless, Be a Lion, Be a Pirate!

“There exists in most men a poet who died young, whom the man survived.” –Sainte-Beuve

In each of us there is a passion for something. We feel, see, smell, hear, and taste the world. Everything around us awakens our senses and forces us to feel emotion. We are human, and that is how we live.

In chapters 6 and 7, Ueland continues to explain what holds us back from greatness. We are afraid and insecure, and she urges us to let go — “be careless, reckless, be a lion, be a pirate! when we write.” Do not worry about what others think.

Following this advice, I am including a personal piece of writing from an ongoing project I have sporadically worked on for years. I challenge you to open up and write about your day, week, job, or whatever, and see how it turns out. You may be pleasantly surprised! PS: I welcome feedback 🙂

My First Job Interview

If you have ever worked, then you know you usually have to fill out an application. The company I worked for had a one-page, front-and-back, application. It was your standard application: contact info, work experience and references, and there was no need to submit a resume. I don’t think we ever looked at a resume; I know I didn’t.

There were no background checks or drug tests, and I was hired in 1997 when you assume people realized the world had changed. Kids were growing at rapid speeds and getting into trouble much younger. Either the company trusted their employees, or it simply didn’t care; it doesn’t matter which one because it was, and still is, common for employers to run these checks. We just never did.

I was 15 with no real work experience. Sure, I mowed yards, cleaned houses, and babysat some, but I had no way of selling myself. Nor did I try to. I picked up the application as soon as I turned 15 and did not submit it until two months later. I wasn’t nervous; I just wasn’t motivated or excited. Little did I know turning in that application would change my life — and my outlook on life.

I remember exactly what I wore because now some 15 years later I would have never worn that outfit to a job interview. Well, my rebellious side of me would want to just to see if I could pull it off again. I wore a bright, blood-red buttoned sweater with a black lace shirt underneath it, a long, black skirt, and knee-high vinyl boots. I walked in and asked for the manager, and a middle-aged man came to the front, of course, and I handed him my application. He looked it over, asked me what hours I could work and how old I was. I responded, and he hired me. That was it … no interview, no checks, just a “be here at 8 a.m. on Saturday.”

Surely, you can see the problem. First, I could have been a prostitute or a crack fiend who just walked off the street. Secondly, it gave me a false perception that finding a job was that easy. And third, it taught me nothing about the real world; if you smile pretty and look cute, you will get what you want. Thank goodness I never actually believed that.

The hiring process was pretty much the same. A person walked into the store, talked to the manager, and as employees you’d hear, “We’ll let you know,” which meant get out of here; or “Here, [whoever], make sure this person gets an employee packet, and we’ll see you on Monday or whatever day they chose. It was interesting to watch the handful of interviews our managers conducted because they were always in the breakroom where employees came and went, and they were no more than 20 minutes long. We were too busy to interview, and honestly I think we just needed bodies. If your application was spelled correctly, you were old enough to work, and we needed you, you were hired. I ruled out applications with misspelled city or state names, but we kept them for one year, as required by law. And people wonder why turnover is so high in retail.

If You Have to Cry, Go Outside Review

I don’t actively seek biographies, but sometimes I am loaned a book that is a “must read” from the lender. A friend of mine loaned me If You Have to Cry, Go Outside and Other Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kelly Cutrone, and I admit it was a must read for me.

Kelly Cutrone is the owner of People’s Revolution, a PR firm with locations in New York and Los Angeles. She is also the author of Normal Gets You Nowhere, produced Kell on Earth, and judged America’s Top Model.

The fashion/celebrity industry has never interested me, so I was a little leery of reading If You Have to Cry, but I liked the title, and my friend was convinced I would love it. She was right. I read this book in a couple of days and learned some interesting things about myself in the process.

What I learned from Kelly Cutrone:

1. It’s okay to make your own religion. With so many people trying to influence you and your beliefs, Cutrone urges readers to make their own religion. No matter what you believe or don’t, it’s okay to have an intimate relationship, completely catered to you, with your faith.

2. I have a style. I like dark fitted clothes, minimum makeup, bare nails, and I usually wear my hair up. I am this way for a lot of reasons, but mostly I would rather sleep in the morning than spend an hour-plus getting ready. I should own and be proud of my style instead of listening to people who try to change it.

3. I’m doing my best. Cutrone discusses entrepreneurship, goals, and taking risks in life. I am not afraid to try new things, try to always be honest (no matter the result), and stick up for myself. Many feel I am harsh and cold, and I’m okay with that. At the end of the day, I have to look at myself in the mirror, not them.

4. You are not entitled to anything. I hear people complain they should make X amount of money because of X. If you want X amount of money, then work your ass off to get it. It doesn’t matter what your degree is, how many people you know, or how hard you worked in the past. What matters is your earn it each day, and if you want more, you work more.

5. Support other women. This one is especially tough for me because I am surrounded by men who I love dearly. I find it harder to relate to women, but I hope over the years to build better relationships with some and create a better balance.

6. Be different and stand out. This is important in all aspects, and if you are truly yourself you can accomplish this with little effort. Each human is unique because we are all different.

7. Discover yourself and cater to your strengths. I love proofreading and editing, and I am good in customer service because I can read people. These are not my only skills, but these are the ones I like the most, so I focus on those as opposed to being driven by money.

8. Have fun. It’s almost impossible to love everything you do because sometimes things suck, but you can try to have a good attitude about everything you do. That makes a huge difference, and you would be amazed at how a good attitude can influence others and make you feel better.

It’s surprising that a randomly loaned 200-page book opened my eyes to things I never knew about myself. Sometimes we are so stressed and busy, we forget to reflect on what we want out of life and from ourselves. So, here’s the challenge: Think about what you want. Then go after it. Cutrone’s story is proof that with hard work, being true to yourself, and taking risks, anything is possible!

If You Want to Write: Do It

Occasionally someone asks me ‘why’? Why I contribute to RevPub, why am I a proofreader, why I write – why, why, why? The answer is simple: I want to.

Chapters 2 and 3 in If You Want to Write discuss starting creative projects because you yearn to see your ideas come to fruition. It’s very easy to talk yourself out of a new project or change. There will be problems, you may risk security or money, and you may never be famous. My response to those arguments is: And?

People I Know

I am friends with many creative types. I have one friend who would be an excellent writer but will not push himself/herself to start a blog and put his/her stuff out there. I know others who don’t see the value because they can’t immediately make money doing it. One author I know is debuting his first novel soon and said to me, “I don’t care if it sells. It’s done, and I can move onto the next, and the next, and the next. Is it ironic he is the only published author?

There is something that stirs inside creative types. An overwhelming desire to tell your story to the world, or whoever will read it, burns in your chest and brain. If a person really wants to write, draw, paint, etc. they will because they cannot fight their passion. It’s not about the money, it’s not about being a best seller, it’s about getting a project out there and moving onto the next one.

Ueland says, “[Creativity] is like a faucet: nothing comes unless you turn it on, and the more your turn it on, the more comes.” The more we nurture our creativity and strive to release that passion, the more that comes out. When you love someone, you don’t ignore them – you show them, so why not do the same for your passions?

Our Story

I called my partner while writing this to ask him why he was doing RevPub? Completely taken off guard, he stuttered for a moment and said, “So I can do my … stuff.” I lovingly made fun of him, and after a good laugh he said, “So all of these ideas I’ve had in my head for one, maybe two decades, have a place and are out there.”

James created Revenant Publications years ago, and it was my crazy self who said earlier in 2012, “Let’s just do it. Let’s get back to our site, have a schedule, post about whatever, and produce the first issue.” My fearless nature coupled with his abilities (and patience), mixed with our drive to do something more lead us to where we are today. We may or may not make a fortune with our projects, we devote a lot of time to them, and we enjoy almost every moment. We have a strong support system and a growing fan base because people can see that we love what we do, and we do it because we are not afraid.

Don’t be afraid of what may or may not happen. People will try to discourage or manipulate you into thinking you can’t achieve your goals. Don’t listen to them, and at the very least, prove them wrong. Do whatever you can to achieve your goal, because at the end of the day, they are not living your life. If you want to start or continue a creative project, then do it. If you want to make a life change, then go for it. The only person who can really hold you back is yourself.

For a special treat, check out my friend, Kevin Litwin. We send a huge congrats and look forward to getting a signed copy!

Want to Write? Introduction

We are a creative class. We want to express ourselves, whether it’s drawing, speaking, writing, or painting or photography. For those of us who enjoy writing, finding inspiration and motivation isn’t always easy.

For that reason, I chose If you Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence, and Spirit by Brenda Ueland to review. I’m not sure what to expect, but I know it will be less technical than the last one and focus more on what’s inside of us, the writers.

I knew I was in trouble when I read that Ueland believes such things as rules, teachers, and grammar are discouraging to the imagination. And maybe that’s true, but this may be the most challenging book I will read. I am a sucker for the rules, and I find comfort in the years of classes and proofreading that taught me those rules.

In order to get started, there are a few things we must keep in mind from the first chapter.

1. Ueland believes that anyone can write.

2. We are all original, and science proves that no two people are the same, so we are automatically original and unique.

3. We must be honest and write from our hearts and intelligence.

4. Also, try to surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. Spend time with those who want to hear your stories and push you to tell more.

5. Practice. Practice makes anyone better at anything, so let’s practice writing together. This book seems to focus on creative writing, which I have not done in years, and I am excited to open my mind to it again.

It may be difficult to shut off my rule-driven brain, but I look forward to writing again, and I hope you all will join me on the journey. Three cheers for the creative spirit and independent mind and bringing them back!