Blogger: Mary Keeley
Location: Books & Such Midwest Office, Illinois
As we concentrate on positive outlooks, this week, let’s tackle our persistence barometer. Some people just seem to have a sunny disposition no matter what life throws at them. For the rest of us, especially those with a melancholy temperament, it can require a lot of effort. We have the assurance: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). But acting on it takes persistence.
You can employ some practical exercises to help check yourself when you encounter discouragement over a rejection letter or your book’s low sales numbers. First, appropriate the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.
- You have been waiting . . . forever . . . for a reply from an agent or editor. Being ready with a little self-talk to recall all the positive evaluations from your critique partners might be enough to balance negative news and counter the impending gloom.
- Be prepared to have a positive perspective. Don’t assume the only reason you haven’t received a response from an agent or editor is because your proposal was quickly dismissed. It could be that she is giving it a thorough review with the intent of offering constructive feedback. There are a number of those proposals on my desk right now.
It is realistic to expect you’ll have disappointments. In her book Bird by Bird, veteran author Anne Lamott describes an experience with her editor, who rejected one of Anne’s manuscripts three times. But Anne persisted in taking his feedback and returning to him with revisions until he finally accepted it.
If you receive a rejection from an editor without any comments, it is okay to request feedback. I know some editors don’t initially offer their reaction because they feel their opinion is subjective and another editor might love your manuscript. And editors can’t give feedback on every rejected project; they’d never accomplish everything else on their massive to-do lists; so graciously accept an “I can’t” response.
If you do receive feedback, look at it as constructive criticism not as a critical review. It is also possible that the rejection has nothing to do with the quality of your work, but only that the publishing house already had contracted a book similar to yours.
A persistent faith plus persistent improving of your craft will yield a positive outlook that your dreams of being a successful author will become reality. I have a Post-It note on my computer monitor that’s a definition of dreams Cynthia Herron wrote in a comment to a recent blog: “Dreams (are) something beyond the scope of the tangible but completely possible with the One who moves mountains.”
What do you do to stay positive about your writing and your publishing dreams?