Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Negatives Can be Positives

Did I lose you already? Well, hang on for a moment and let me clear this up. I've had a quite a few people ask me how I stay motivated in the face of rejection. I do actually have a secret. I'm competitive and I have a bit of a need-to-prove-people-wrong complex. 

Let me take you back to my junior year in high school. I was on the varsity tennis team and my coach went around the team giving his predictions of what kind of individual records we'd each have. He got to my doubles partner and I and said, "You'll win more than you lose." Ouch! We got mad. Really mad. That's insulting! (So insulting I remember those exact words all these years later!) So what did we do? We worked our tails off and broke the school record for most wins. We still hold it.

I haven't lost that need to prove people wrong. But don't misunderstand me. When I get a rejection, I get upset first. I may even cry. But then I work harder because I need to prove I can make it in this industry. And do you want to know something? When you get that acceptance, the rejections that came before it don't matter anymore.

What about you? Can you turn rejection into motivation?

56 comments:

  1. I think I can. Rejection doesn't mean that the MS is bad.

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    1. Exactly! You just have to push through until you find someone who loves it as much as you do.

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  2. Why yes, I can! I recently signed a 3 book deal with HarperCollins for a MG fantasy adventure series.

    I would probably never have written the first one if I hadn't had 2 YA historical fiction manuscripts rejected and decided to try another genre.

    Perfect example, right? Rejection set me on a different path. And those YA HF stories? I'll sell them later too, I bet!

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    1. I bet you will too, Dianne! :) And congrats on the MG deal!

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  3. Good for you, Kelly! And I agree, that was rude of your coach. Congrats on holding that record, too. :)

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    1. Thanks, Diane. My coach was pretty awesome but that one thing just stuck with me. Don't tell me I can't! LOL

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  4. Oh my goodness, I'm sure it was very tempting to slap your coach upside his head!

    You can learn a lot from rejection. I used to be really sensitive about people rejecting me/my work, but now I try to find the most useful parts of their critiques and find a way to apply it to myself. I look at rejection as an opportunity to improve. It's the only way to could maintain my sanity :)

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    1. Yes, it is the only way to stay sane. LOL

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  5. I always remind myself that everyone will not like my story and that is one person's opinion. When I get a positive comment, I tape it to the wall to remind myself to never ever give up. :)

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    1. Love that! Yes, reading is subjective in nature. We have to remember that.

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  6. I knew you were driven, Kelly, but, wow! You never cease to amaze me.

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  7. I seem to have a rejection bucket. As the rejections fill it, I'm fine. Seeing the positive in any notes I'm lucky enough to receive, sending the story out again and again. But when the bucket gets full and overflows, I do too. I get sad and weepy and discouraged. Then I drain my bucket and everything is good again. It's weird, really.

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    1. I think draining the bucket is important. We have a right to feel hurt, but then we need to move on and prove them wrong.

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  8. YEAH. Absolutely! Competition is my biggest motivator. Frankly, one of my favorite things about following author blogs is seeing them get sales and thinking, "Oh, man! She got another one! OK, that's one more sale I have to get, too." *fist pump*

    And let's all be honest here: the publishing industry is tough enough that to make it, you have to be the kind of personality that turns a rejection into a resolve to do better.

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    1. I agree. You have to be tough or this industry will eat you up.

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  9. Love this. My youth was spent in auditions for choirs and theatre productions. Sometimes I got in, sometimes I got cut. It taught me a lot about perseverance and moving on.

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    1. That's a great lesson to learn at a young age.

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  10. I had my second book rejected by my first publisher. That manuscript went on to sell to Bantam! So a rejection is definitely not The End!

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  11. Yay, Kelly! You know I'm your personal fan, and even more so today.

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  12. Theoretically, I completely agree with you. Getting mad is a great way to keep a writer's energy up. That's worked for me with past rejected projects and spurred me on. Not this time though. I can't get motivated and haven't written in three months ...

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    1. No! Not writing is the only thing that can keep you down. Everyone faces rejection. It's part of the industry. But we can only succeed when we keep trying despite the rejection.

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  13. I agree. Rejection do make you want to prove people wrong. They can also put you on a different path. I used to submit my short stories to magazines and got tons of rejections. I did more research on those magazines and found out majority of them don't publish stories like mine.

    I had to rethink some things. Getting my stories in a magazines would've been awesome but it wasn't really that important to me. I decided to focus instead on getting my novel published. I don't regret it.

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    1. Yes, rejection can send us down unexpected paths, and for the better. :)

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  14. Being a passionate Latin woman, I tend to shed a tear or a million. Later, after the tissue box is emptied and the floor is littered with the used pink sheets I say to my friends, the shadows on the wall: "One day soon I will be where I want to be Mr or Ms. Editor who sent me the Dear Author, not for us, note." As you said, the more we strive, the better we become. I believe this all the way down to the tips of my Herman Munster sized toes.

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    1. I cry, too, and I think that's completely normal. We have to get the hurt out before we can move on.

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  15. Sneaky coach! Funny how they can say just the right things to light your fire. I admire the ability to turn negatives into positives. I'm working on getting better at it every day, and I'm proud of the thick skin I'm developing.

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    1. Yes, I wonder if he did that on purpose because he knew my doubles partner and I wouldn't stand for it. ;)

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  16. Great post. I'm not great with rejection but I think you get used to it. I like your attitude! I've enjoyed reading all these comments too. I'm new to the publishing world and it's kind of a messed up business. Note to Lexa; It will come back (your motivation) when you're ready

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    1. It's a really tough business, but I couldn't imagine being in any other. :) Great advice for Lexa, too. Thanks!

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  17. Competitive is a good thing. It keeps us in the running.

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  18. For me, the first few form rejects don't phase me too much.

    Once we (The Book and I) go beyond 10, frustration starts to intensify. The ones that hurt the most are the "No answer for X time means no" rejections from agents and few small presses I've tried with my last book, and feedback from beta-readers (BEFORE the submission phase)that may be accurate and honest, but don't really tell me "Why this reads bad or boring" and have no way to even begin to how to improve it.

    I'm slogging through my new WIP now, and if the fates allow, I'll be querying it next summer.

    Like Kelly, much of my disappointment from rejection is channeled into "MUST prove the naysayers W-R-O-N-G!" at all costs.

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    1. Prove them wrong, Taurean! Good luck with your WIP.

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  19. Absolutely! That's what keeps me motivated :) That's awesome about the school record!

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    1. I still love to say I hold the record. ;)

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  20. After ten gillion rejections, I got a contract on my memoir. So I figure the way to deal with rejection is just to hang in there.

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    1. That's great! Congrats. And yes, hanging in there is key.

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  21. Congrats on the tennis record! I like to turn rejection into something positive, too. It isn't always easy at first, but then it is worth it and I always grow. :)

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    1. I agree. It's not easy at first, but it's worth it in the end.

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  22. Soo true! I have always felt my drive and energy to succeed is fed by those who seek to put me down! Thus the ebook - in the gace of a publisher who refused to publish my 5th Spy Girl. Thus the current fight against our rotten town council who refuse to back down over our green space. Is it that we are obstinate, or is it that we are WOMEN and we've had to fight for recognition since Eve got blamed for the apple? Dunno. Love reading your mini-blogs!! And can't wait to get the Touch of Death book after Xmas - I'm vying to be the first to review it on Amazon.co.uk!

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    1. I hope you are the first to review it on Amazon.co.uk! Thanks, Carol!

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  23. I think possessing that streak of needing to prove naysayers wrong is good. Very good. My main motivation is from reminding myself that this lifetime must be well-spent on what I truly want to do. So those rejections and disappointments quietly slither away.

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    1. That's a great way to look at it, Claudine!

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  24. it depends. If I think I got rejected b/c the ms wasnt good enough then I want to fix it, but when it seems like im being rejected on a whim, it makes me hate the whole process.

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    1. I've heard editors and agents talk about the MS that got away. The one they rejected and it turned out to be a best seller. It happens. Make it your goal to be the one with that MS. Because honestly, how cool would that be? ;)

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  25. Not into motivation, no. But I don't let it stop me, either.

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  26. Falling down along the way, so to speak, means that you have to get back up and get back into it.

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  27. I turn rejection and criticism into something positive by working hard and succeeding.

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  28. At first, the rejections really hurt. But now, although they still burn, I don't let myself take it personally and try to just look at it as though at least now I can move on and I know. However, a note explaining why I was rejected sure would help!! It's just so frustrating to get a form letter. Grrrrr

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    1. I understand why places use form letter, but I get what you're saying.

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