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Rejection Inspires

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.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

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!

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Love and Valentine’s Day: From A Writer’s Perspective

Since the beginning of time humans have been social creatures. Love is one of the most amazing and mysterious emotions known to man. The old believe love is learned over time and the young think it happens in an instant. Although I’m technically on the young side of the spectrum, my belief about love falls right in the middle. The opportunity for love can happen in the blink of an eye, but it takes time to get to know a person enough to love them. You can be 15 or 65 and fall in love for the first time.

I began dating when I was 16 and you could say I was a hopeless romantic. Learning quickly of heartbreak and rejection, I went through boy like paper towels. I gave my heart to a boy for a few weeks, and found that we weren’t compatible. You might call me shallow or fickle. I bet my parents would have agreed, but I learned how to love from a lot of little  mismatches. I have the pleasure of admitting I’ve been in love more than once, which is a feat not many people enjoy in their lifetimes. It’s not hard to fall in love. The problem people don’t figure out is that if you’re truly in love you never fall out of it. One person decides that the love isn’t real or strong enough to survive. It forces both to move on with their lives, transforming into hatred or if you’re lucky a comforting memory.

From Nietzsche's "On Reading and Writing"

I’d like to think every intimate (meaning close and loving) relationship I’ve had has changed me. Most in a good way, but others in a bad. No matter how the relationship ends, I take from it a learning experience to help me with the next one. The one thing that has never changed about my relationships, though, is the way I express my love. My significant other, old or current, will have collected notes or letters from me over the course of the relationship. I could say it’s an endearing twist on the common communication of past, but I’d be lying. Writing letters to the guy I love is just what I do. I can’t change how I love a man like I can’t change the ethnicity I am.  It is a staple to my life to write my feelings down for those I love.

Since it is the commercial celebration of love and relationships, I decided to explain how being a writer affects my love life. While writers are mostly loners, we long for love. Some of the most famous authors have been left to fulfill their dreams alone. Yet, it is not a lonely life for everyone. Authors like Robert Frost or my favorite, Stephen King have been able to share their dreams with women who care about them. Having someone to share in the trials and rewards is indescribable for a writer. If we have no one to share in the spoils of our craft, then what is the purpose of writing about life in the first place?

Sophocles, the Philosopher

My current boyfriend (hopefully the last) has know me for a good amount of time. As I’m only 22 years old, I haven’t had a lot of time to develop decades of relationships, but the ones I do hold onto are important to me. He’s known me since before I announced myself as a writer, and supports me regardless of the financial misgivings of the profession. It is a passion he respects and doesn’t understand as most people don’t. He cares for what I’m writing, listening as I read my stories to him. But what he enjoys most is my letters. I enjoyed 5 years of work with him, but the three months of work were the most special. I worked at a grocery story. Noble, huh? And with the massive amounts of free time at work I would write on anything I could find. I’d write him several notes a day, every day for over a hundred days. He loved the experience of my writing because it was the most personal and compassionate loving anyone could receive.

Like the sonnets of Shakespeare or Petrarch, love can be told a thousand different ways. But for a writer to love another person, there is no limit to the kinds and combinations of words we can use to express love in the deepest of ways. So, when I began focusing on my school work and spent less time away from my boyfriend, the letters stopped. I was able to see him and express myself in person and no longer needed the letters to show him I cared.

Some of Shakespeare's many thoughts on love

However, I wrote to him unconsciously.  In every story I was writing, I was putting a piece of him in one of my characters. It wasn’t a conscious decision to put him in, but he made a perfect hero in my eyes. All of the things that made me fall in love with him made it easy to put him in my stories. Although it probably would have worked out better if he was a villain, but lucky am I that I got a prince!  You see, it’s one thing to write how much you love someone. It’s a completely different experience to love someone so much that they are written into your stories. It is a blessing and a curse to put people you know in your stories.

Unconsciously, everyone we know helps us to form realistic characters. It is the easiest way for a writer to form a character. In this case, writing the love of my life into my stories is a blessing, so far. He is not phased by his involvement in my stories because I never put all of him in one character. Each person has many different personalities inside them: a soft side, a brave one, a private, and a public one. It allows me to use him without having someone recognize that it’s him. He can be a brave prince and a shy nerd depending on the story, but both describe him in a different way. Each day I have the gift of using someone I love to fuel my need to write.

Looks like philosophers really know their stuff

He is my support, my critic, and my inspiration. He may not know how the gears work inside my head or how it gets on paper. He does know me, and that is the most important thing. As long as he knows that I love him through his participation in my writing, I’m doing my job as his girlfriend and a writer. I’ve contemplated using my love writing skills in Hallmark cards, but the opportunity hasn’t presented itself. You can bet, though, that this Valentine’s Day my boyfriend will receive a card full from corner to corner with loving words specially chosen just for him.

Whether you have the chance to love someone now or are waiting for “the one” there is always hope that love will find a way. If not family and friends can be the best solution to a lonely heart. If not, the bars are open and the bottles are flowing. Go out, date or not and have a fun time 🙂

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