I recently discovered Gail Carson Levine’s blog, which has given me ample material for today’s post. Ella Enchanted is one of her most well-known books made even more famous by the movie starring Anne Hathaway. It is a lovely fantasy book that features a fearsome heroine with a curse from her fairy godmother. Levine has gone on to write many books for children and young adults, but one this is true about all writers. We must all suffer rejection until we have our writing published.
In her post, Aw, rejection dejection, Levine was asked by her readers for advice on handling rejection and other publishing pitfalls. The result is a testament to years of rejection before you find the right publisher/editor to fall in love with your book. While her prized Ella Enchanted was only rejected once, Levine suffered 9 long years of rejections for much of her work.
She described a rejection letter he received for a children’s picture book, where the editor misspelled the name of her book in addition to rejecting her idea. Humiliation takes over your confidence in these situations, and nothing can fix how you feel. The important part to remember when receiving rejection is this:
NOT EVERYONE WILL LIKE YOUR STUFF–AND THAT’S OKAY!
I don’t mean to yell at you on my blog, but writers–drill it into your head. No matter what people say or how many rejections you get. If only one person has liked something you’ve written so far, then there is room for improvement. With almost 7 billion people in the world, your odds are good! Say one out of every 100 people like your book. That’s 70,000,000 people that would like your book. Now by comparison it may not seem like a lot. But if you’re making money off that book, who cares about the other 99%? It doesn’t matter how many publishers or editors reject your work. The important part is that someone wants to read it. Our goal as writers is to affect our readers in a way that changes their live.
The optimism Levine kept throughout her 9 years was helped by more descriptive criticisms, and the determination to make her writing better than before. Keep a close support group of other writers, friends, and family. With a powerful support group, you can accomplish so much more than just going alone. If you lose your self-confidence, you may not have the drive to write. You must be vigilant in the learning process. Never stop honing your craft. The moment you think you are the best writer you can be is the moment people stop reading what you’ve written.
I have a long road to get to “okay writer”, but at least I have accepted the work it will take. If I convince myself I don’t need to learn, then no one will be interested in what I have to say. So, I stay strong, force myself to push forwards, and always remember that not everyone will like my stuff. It’s okay :)
Happy reading and writing all! And most importantly, NEVER GIVE UP!