Monday, September 18, 2006

Ever Felt Like A Character in the Play of Life?

I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. Not only did I draw pictures to illustrate them, my sister and I also set about recording our very own werewolf story at age eight complete with sound effects. Further on down the road in high school, my favorite English assignments were an imaginative drill. Every Friday the class had to analyze a random picture in our text books, then write a story to describe it. I think I was the only participant who embraced the challenge readily. To me the task wasn’t work. Sure I had to write, but my imagination got to run wild within boundaries, which spelt F-U-N.

Today I still do that. I see everyday occurrences and wonder what happened before or what would happen after I turned my eyes away. In a way I think all writers use these little snippets as building blocks to create identifiable events in their work. In effect we become characters in the scenery around us. And as a member of the ever-moving sea of people we provide the cause and effect that makes life kinetic (including the cross-sectioned semi-chaos of publishing).

But have you ever thought of yourself that way—as someone at the mercy of a higher force? I ask because I got a rejection letter as a belated birthday gift. At the ripe old age of thirty-two I should’ve learned by now to roll with life’s punches to the gut (especially with the stack shoved in a cubby of my desk). But after six months of praying, hoping, and imagining what I could do with the chance to write in both sub-genres I loved for a NY publisher, I got those dreams dashed. Maybe I built myself up too high. Perhaps I should’ve tempered my grandiose designs for the future. But I’d simply followed the motto of visualizing what I wanted in order to get to that X-marked destination. I had to believe in myself, or who else would?

Right now, my personal foundations have been rocked. But I still see the gleam in my prose that marks their merit from my hard work. As they say, “I’ve come a long way, baby.” It was ten years ago when I staggered in, whooped from my full-time job, and sat down in front of a hand-me-down DOS PC to start TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART. If I’d known then how hard I’d have to fight, the turmoil I’d have to endure, I likely would’ve quit. Heck, I almost did…twice. In 2004 my saving grace came as a call out of the blue one night while I was doing laundry. The British woman on the other end told me something that reduced me to tears, yet had me pumped up enough to consider crawling onto my roof to shout out my fabulous news. TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART had been chosen as a finalist in NJ’s Put Your Heart in A Book contest, my first final ever. I settled for phoning/e-mailing every single person I could think of.

You live and learn, even when you don’t want to. And Life certainly has plenty of blind turns in store. But when you meet a roadblock head on, you simply have to whip into a three-point turn and detour to get back on your chosen path. That’s the only way to end up where you want to be. Perhaps we’re even headed for the same spot—a place that’ll give readers the chance to love our characters, including the quirky ones who reflect the world around us.


MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott said...

Ah rejection...that nasty nine letter word that is the bane of every writer's existence. I got a rejection recently and I'm pretty all right with it. (It was for The Last Keeper) and even though the publisher said they take books with no sex, I have a feeling they may have decided against it due to that very fact. There is a sensual interlude, but I didn't feel a full out sex scene would work. Anyhooo....I'm thinking of submitting it to a regular fantasy publisher who had invited me to submit something about 10 years ago after I had been rejected by them for another book. But they liked my style they said... At the time I didn't have anything, and switched to writing more romance oriented books.

Did being rejected kick me in the teeth? Yeah, it did...for about 20 minutes. I try to just keep plugging along with my work and submit the next thing I've written somewhere else. I don't get hung up on the "I have to publish with this publisher or I'm just gonna perish" syndrome. If they are reputable and I like what comes out of their house I'll submit in hopes of getting a contract. Or if I know authors with them.

Don't think of your plans as being thwarted, just think of it as perhaps the next person you submit it to will be the one you're supposed to be publishing with. That might be why you were rejected this wasn't the right place for you...and maybe the next one will snatch up your book and give you a big fat juicy contract and you'll wonder why you ever felt bad in the first place. : )


Skylar Masey said...

Thanks for the pep talk Kat!

I'm moving on to the next book in the Shandar series. Trying to firm up a few details and get the basic plot scoped out. However I keep having these nifty ideas to change the hero, and have to decide if I want to let him progress in a cowboy way or keep him as I originally intended--a dishonorable space pirate trying to hold on to the last bit of home he has left (think Titan AE here).

Xandra Gregory said...

Rejection sux. [[[Big hug]]] but as Kathleen said, they can be a blessing in disguise. You've got a great attitude in your post. Take your time and the right publisher will come to you.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Rejections do suck, but they build character. We learn how to get back up after the fall and we work even harder. I wish I'd been able to tell myself ten years ago that I could whether a rejection, or a handful and not lose my desire and ability to write. If I'd known then what I know now, I might have had the courage to try this a lot sooner.

Lynda K. Scott said...

{{{Skylar}}} Even the best rejection (one where you're invited to submit something else or rewrite the turned down material) is hurtful. But you've already sold at least one book, it won't be long before you find the right publisher for this one.