Monday, March 7, 2011

feeling the *Sting* - or make a change; take a turn; go for something Else, or find your formula

Because I'm hard at work on my fourth book *taking that in, feeling it, acknowledging it, savoring it, being grateful for it,* for today I found a post from an old blog I used to have. From when I sent out a few queries on what would later become Tender Graces. Here is an excerpt from what I had to say about the experience. Maybe you can relate?
The thing is my friends—your talents can't be measured by rejections. Rejection does not mean "No Talent,” it means we've not "captured the attention of" yet, which, yes, is still frustrating. I keep hearing about "the saturated market" and it's true I suppose; I keep hearing about "this climate of the publishing world;” okay . . . whatever.


What I don't hear is "your writing isn't good enough,” or “your characters aren’t remarkable or compelling.” Actually, I've never received a negative rejection letter and many of them include encouraging comments. Oh, "bad ones" are sent, for I learned by someone’s mail-out mistake that some agents do carry devastating news—I mistakenly received a rejection letter meant for another writer. The agent told the writer she couldn't write worth a lick and then he said some other things that would have made me melt on the floor sobbing. Though I trembled, I contacted the agent and said I received the wrong letter; he said he'd send me mine. I waited in horrorified worry for the stinging words, for this agent was rather brutal with the other writer—I wondered, “Why am I setting up myself for hurt?”
When my letter came I shook when opening it. Yet I needed to know. His first sentence read, "You certainly are a gifted writer . . .” then he had some other nice things to say (I didn’t have to pick myself off the floor). But . . . the but . . . "but, I just couldn't get excited about your story . . .” I didn’t know whether to be relieved over the "nice" letter, or stomp my foot in frustration over the “couldn’t get excited” part . . . heard it all before.

It is frustrating—to know you have a "gift" but are somehow not fashioning that gift into the right package to sell . . . because after all, isn't this a business where we sell a product? Well, that's where many writers have a bit of a problem - if we want to be published we must remember how this is a Business, however we also must be passionate about our work, and creative, and idealistic, tenacious, thick-skinned, and all these things war with each other in a jumbled up mess.

And sometimes, frankly, good writing and good characters just aren't enough--who'da thunkit? *sting*

What I want to say is: many of you all know you are good at what you do and capable of writing something that belongs on the bookshelf or the morning/evening doorstep or the coffeetable—and therein lies the sting . . . there are oftimes these factors in the equation and knowing the formula includes Luck plus Timing divided by X plus Z times Ysquared, or something magical to happen as the moon is in the seventh house, or by accident, or by purposeful or formulaic design, or by  *fill in the blank*

I just haven't plugged the right numbers into my equation yet, found the key to unlock a door. Right?


I wrote the above post never knowing that not so long after, I’d have a contract with BelleBooks Publishers. Bless them. We all will have to decide just what we are willing to do for what we want, or, when we are ready to change direction—my change in direction was to query a small press. Perhaps if I’d have queried more agents as I’ve heard other writers do (I've heard of writers who query 50, 100, 200, more . . . Wow!) I’d have found one who liked my work enough to rep me. Or not. And if I had, what would be different?--I do not know. Instead, here I am where I am. I sure feel lucky.

Do I sometimes wish for More? That's a post for another day: - a hint? Don't we oftimes forget to be grateful and wish for the success someone else has? Reading that post above reminded me of a time when I'd have slap flat envied where I am and how far I've now come. Maybe someone right now is envying what I have achieved and would be quite happy with what I right now have? Huhn. Think about that one, Kat.

(By the way, on that note above, from time to time I think about the writer who would receive that awful letter. On purpose I didn't write down or remember her name, but I hope something good happened for her in some fashion. Maybe the agent did her a favor, or maybe he didn’t; that’s something I’ll never know.)

What is your sting? Where are you right now? And what, if anything, have you decided to change about your process, because it seems a better path for you? And if you did change paths/directions, how has it worked out--no looking back, right?


Diane said...

Great and encouraging post. I do feel that I am plugging things into a formula and of course there are some unknown variables that are beyond my control. Trying to think and decide about future changes. Thanks for this today! :O)

Susan Kramer said...

Wonderful, thoughtful post Kat. I haven't even gotten to that part of the process. It's great to see someone already living their dream and inspiring those of us working towards it.

*smiles* Susan

Sharla Scroggs said...

absolutely have a "sting" to share. Back in November, I won a Secret Agent contest on Miss Snark's website. I got all kinds of great feedback. The agent went on and on and even said "I'm drooling" once, she was so excited about my excerpt that of course I was excited too. The prize was sending a full ms. I did. I waited, thinking "this is the one". You know how you just know? Well I did. And I was dead-ass wrong. LOL. Same agent that was drooling previously, read only a couple of chapters of my full and said "enhh."

I was crushed. I made the cardinal sin of believing my own hype. But after I sent two more out and got similar reactions, and after I pouted for a bit, I dug in and revised. Big.

2 1/2 months later I cast my line out with the new bait, and caught my awesome agent extraordinaire.

So sometimes stings lead to better things. My book is better for it.

michiko said...

I think you are in tough industrial
world therefore you must be up right yourself just write good book for everybody.
Sorry to hear a man has wrongly sent you letter that put you off a bit?
The photos the last one I like very much.
You do best way toward to enjoy everyday.
Keep smiles!

Liza said...

I wonder about the person who got the bad letter too...did they use it to propell themselves into a writing class, to practice, practice, practice until they learned to do it better...or did they stop? Criticism, fair, real criticism, is so important...

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

I just found your blog. Good luck on your book. It's a lot of hard, hard, work writing a book. Yes, the sting of criticism can hurt, but we need to keep on writing. Believe is ourselves. I enjoyed your blog a lot.

Eryl said...

I am currently trying to embrace my shitty first draft, ie just write and keep my bossy inner editor drugged or something. Once it's written she can come out and do her worst.

Sarah Allen said...

Great post :) I think your right, and I appreciate the encouragement and support. Thanks!

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

lakeviewer said...

Kathryn, I just finished reading Sweetie and sent you my reactions by email. The book made me cry, deep heartfelt tears. The characters were as real as my own children. I learned profound lessons from these two young girls, lessons only great literature teach us.

Only a belief in your characters and your message can keep you going, keep you plugging on with or without any other support and validation.

This is a wonderful post, and encouraging post, letting us know that writing begins as a labor of love and is cast out on an ocean of indifference sometimes.

Texas Playwright Chick said...

I'm feeling so sorry for that other writer. I too, hope something good (and encouraging) happened for her. Words can be strong poison or medicine.