The Shoe Hits the Floor

Posted by Micki Cottam on 4:24 PM

I feel like I have been christened in my journey to publication. Two weeks after sending my pitch and excerpt to my first batch of agents, I have officially received my first rejection letter! Now, now, don't cry for me. I am actually relieved! Without further ado, here it is: 

"Thank you for sharing your work with me.  I know that writing a book is a time-consuming and emotional process, so I appreciate the effort you have expended to reach this point in your publishing journey.  Alas, I must reject what you have been kind enough to submit.
I am very selective about taking on new clients since the publishing industry has become so narrow in its focus and harsh in its treatment of debut and midlist authors. Projects must have stellar world building, characters that leap off the page, pacing that is relentless and a story that entices the reader to take its journey with the characters. I know that’s a tall order, but if your writing is lacking in any of those areas, I must pass on it.
I wish you the best of luck with your writing career.  Our website has information you may find helpful..."

A form rejection, but at least it's a rejection! Okay, you must think I'm crazy by now. Actually being excited to receive a rejection letter. But seriously, I would much rather receive a form rejection letter than endure the subbing silence of that is the no-reply. 

I am painfully aware of the plethora of rejection letters I am destined to receive as wannba author. 

Now I know what you are thinking, "destined" to be rejected? Isn't that a bit melodramatic? Not really. 

I don't expect every agent to love my book(s) just like I don't expect every reader to love them either. Finding the agent who connects with your novel is harder than guessing which stranger out of crowded room likes the same kind of mix-ins in their ice-cream sunday. Ice-cream sunday novel...mmmmmmmm...okay, I'm back. It is critical that an agent connects with nearly every aspect of your novel because when all is said and done, they must believe you will make them money. I just have some more work to do before I make someone scream, "SHOW ME THE MONEY!" 

Now, stay tuned for some feel good perspective on how the best of us get rejected... 
More recently....
  1. John Grisham’s first novel was rejected 25 times.
  2. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) received 134 rejections.
  3. Beatrix Potter had so much trouble publishing The Tale of Peter Rabbit, she initially had to self-publish it.
  4. Robert Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) received 121 rejections before it was published and went on to become a best seller.
  5. Gertrude Stein spent 22 years submitting before getting a single poem accepted.
  6. Judy Blume, beloved by children everywhere, received rejections for two straight years.
  7. Madeline L’Engle received 26 rejections before getting A Wrinkle in Time published—which went on to win the Newberry Medal and become one of the best-selling children’s books of all time.
  8. Frank Herbert’s Dune was rejected 20 times before being published and becoming a cult classic.
  9. Stephen King received dozens of rejections for Carrie before it was published (and made into a movie!).*
  10. James Lee Burke’s novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over a period of nine years and, upon its publication by Louisiana State University Press in 1986, was nominate for a Pulitzer Prize.


Are You the Typical - Insane - Writer?

Posted by Micki Cottam on 10:30 AM

Yesterday, I ventured alone the long drive from my home in Eagle Mountain, UT (N-Central Utah) to my Grand's house in St George (On the NV border), with my two younglings in tow (Evie, 3 + Remington, 6 months). A miracle occurred about a quarter of the way there when they both fell asleep at the same time. I turned off the radio and overhead DVD player that was looping "Tangled" and listened to the hum of the road and the air as it passed the sub-par sealant on the driver's door. It was glorious!

I started to think about ABNA (Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award) which I had entered my novel in the day the contest opened. The people I have met there are extraordinary and even when I'm not actively participating the forums, I love to lurk and read their hopes, fears, witty banter, and ravenous editing of eachother's prose. After a while of creeping through the threads, I began to feel that the snippets of insight I was granted into the writer's psyche presented a much larger theme that we all seemed to share. Carl Jung should have studied the collective subconscious of writer's minds because it is so fascinating!

As I drove through the high desert covered in snow, I began to explore the concept of writers and self-deprecation. ABNA has taught me that a VERY high percentage of authors are extremely self-deprecating when it comes to their writing, ability, and future of writing. Here are some of the types of things said on the ABNA boards.
  • "I am a fraud." 
  • "My writing is embarrassingly poor compared to everyone else here." 
  • "I deserve to be rejected." 
  • "I don't know if I will ever be good enough." 
  • "You can't force talent and I'm not sure I have it." 

These sentiments oozed from the conversations I read. Maybe some of these writers were trying to be modest, but I feel that most of them are sincere because I know I have thought many of the same things.

I started to wonder why writers were so prone to this! Is this healthy or even needed? Do we need this to be moldable or do we make ourselves TOO moldable to suit other's tastes? I once heard an anecdote about raising children. The gist of it was, raising a child with the belief that they are exceptional will cultivate complacency not success.  While raising a child with belief that they can always be better will ensure exceptionalism. Are we writers simply taking ourselves to the back of the woodshed and giving ourselves a good beating to spurn us to do better or are we abusing ourselves and our craft?

I came across several articles today when I was doing a bit of reading on self-deprecation as it applies to writers. The article argues that a survey conducted found that writers are at greater risk for depression and suicide.

A NY Times article expounded,

"It is not surprising that these mood disorders seem most at home in the artistic mind. "The cognitive style of manic-depression overlaps with the creative temperament," Ms. Jamison said. Researchers have found that in a mildly manic state, subjects think more quickly, fluidly and originally. In a depressed state, subjects are self-critical and obsessive, an ideal frame of mind for revision and editing. "When we think of creative writers," Ms. Jamison said, "we think of boldness, sensitivity, restlessness, discontent; this is the manic-depressive temperament."

What do you think about this? Are you manic, self-deprecating, and discontent when your writing and editing is at your best? I don't think I am most of the time. Actually, I think I have to be in a very good mood to get my best writing! Manically happy maybe? Jury is still out on whether I am highly self-critical and obsessive while editing.

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