When inspiration hits, roll with the punch and take it to lunch!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reveling In Rejection

When I first began writing seriously I told myself I’d make 100 submissions before becoming the slightest bit frustrated. Five rejections later, no problem. Fifteen, still doing well. But somewhere around the 30-something mark, I lost my muse, got stuck in a rut and found myself battling writer’s rejection blues. It felt like I’d never return to that hopeful state of blind faith, believing that eventually I’d succeed. Luckily it was at this point that I got the next best thing to an acceptance call--a personal response--and an encouraging one at that, signed by an editor herself! Finally, proof that my manuscripts were not being sucked into a black hole (my equivalent to receiving a form letter or worse, nothing at all).

That one response meant so much, I made several copies and hung them around my house to remind me that my efforts would not go unnoticed. Since then, I’ve made it to the halfway mark with fifty submissions. And although I’m still waiting for my first publication, I must be doing something right as my last three rejections were each personalized, making for an overall count of ten--twenty percent of everything I’ve done. Not bad when thought of that way.

Although an editor's note may seem insignificant to some, for a struggling writer, being able to revel in rewards, no matter how small, keeps us going.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What's Left To Write?

When I first began writing, I believed I was creating something that had never been done before. After all, who would think to write a concept book about seasons in rhyme? In all the years I read to my own three children, I had come across only one such picture book, and it was published long ago. Surely it hadn’t been done since, right? Wrong.

Shortly after completing my first manuscript, I discovered that not only were there three season books with the exact same title as mine, but also a new one released through Scholastic. In rhyme. At first this was discouraging, but then I learned something all writers need to know: Everything’s been done. It’s the way in which you do it that makes the difference.

One of the best examples of this is fairy tales. Most of us are familiar with the story of the gingerbread man who jumps out of the oven and leads everyone on a wild chase until finally, he’s eaten by the fox. But suppose a few changes are made as in Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett, Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst, or Gingerbread Man, Superhero! by Dottie Enderle. These are all based on the same tale, yet they each have their own unique way of retelling the story, providing a new voice, style and approach.

The same holds true for other fiction. One of the most common plots is: a protagonist is introduced; he/she faces conflict; he/she tries to solve conflict but faces setbacks; after several trials and tribulations, he/she finally succeeds. There are many stories that use this formula. And there are many other formulas used as the framework of a story. The job of the writer is to invent colorful characters, visual verbiage and individual design, creating “new” narrative.

So what’s left to write? Everything! In your own manner.