Ouch...Rejection Hurts

In the beginning of my fiction writing career, I wrote five novels and had them all rejected. My motivation dived and I though I would never pick up a pen again. So how did I keep my motivation going to write that next novel and win that publishing contract?

Motivation helps us to achieve our dreams.

Motivation helps us to achieve our dreams.

I knew I wanted to be a writer. Ever since I started reading in year one at school, words had captured my heart and I had to read every day. I loved writing stories and I would get carried away in my own little world. My teachers said I had a vivid imagination and encouraged me to keep writing stories.

The journey to publication has been one of the most difficult adventures of my life. My first five novels were rejected. It hurt and with each subsequent novel I wrote after each rejection, the writing became harder. Once I realised my first five novels were my apprenticeship and that  I had to learn how to write scenes that had a beginning, a middle and an ending; and the ending of the scene, had to hook my reader so that she had to keep reading the next scene and the one after that, until she finished the book, I was on my way to achieving my dream.

I learned how to create characters and how to develop them throughout the story so that they had grown by the end of the story. I learned how to structure my story of where the crucial high and low points of the story occurred. In this apprenticeship there was a lot for me to learn.

So how did I deal with the rejection letters? I gave myself permission to be disappointed and to shed a few tears. Life is about rolling with the good and bad times and being emotionally honest during those times. In the privacy of my own home, the next step was getting mad at the editor for rejecting me, and then mad at myself for being so naiive thinking all I had to do was write a couple of drafts of a book and send it off to a publisher. I was on a steep learning curve. After I nursed the hurt, I asked myself why I was writing and was I prepared to put the extra hard yards into the work?

I write because I feel compelled to write. A day without writing is like cutting off my right hand. I'm useless. I wander around lost and confused. There is nothing else I'd rather be doing than writing. I also write to entertain and to encourage people in their own life's journey. So, that left me with no alternative than to learn all I could about the writing craft and keep practising until I became published. I am a determined person and I don't accept defeat easily. I read every book I could get my hands on to learn my craft.

Because of my perseverance I was rewarded with a contract for African Hearts. What a thrill that was, but success came twenty long years after I started writing. I knew I wanted to succeed but I had to get over the pain of rejection first, develop a thick skin and believe that I could do the job. The most important lesson I learned was to keep writing, every spare minute I had every day.

Do you believe you have the perseverance to be a published writer? How have you handled your rejection letters? What motivated you? I'd like to hear your story.

Finishing ...

I've just completed my current work in progress. The last few weeks have felt like I've been swimming in a pool of glue. I was so keen to finalise the last draft, but I got stuck at chapter seven. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't continue on. This resulted in giving myself a swift talking to.

What created my demise? Self doubt. Ecclesiastes 1:3 came to mind -

"What does man gain from all his labour at which he toils under the sun?"

I began to think, so why do I write here in my office all day long while the sun is shining outside? I hear the children laughing as they play; I hear the wind in the trees; and the cars going places. They all seem to have purpose, but what was I doing? Typing words into a computer. What for? Would there ever be any end to this writing work I'm doing? All these questions and more bombarded me from every corner of my mind. I was stuck on the last draft of my novel with another twenty-nine scenes still to edit. The work stretched before me seemingly endless. Will it ever be finished?

I sat back and took an honest look at where the work was going and the reason why I write novels. On the wall of my office I have my mission to "Inspire women to heal from past hurts and be the women God created them to be." If I didn't finish this draft, this manuscript had no chance of crossing a publisher's desk. That means I would not only fail in my work, but most importantly I would also fail the women I want to encourage. A half-baked manuscript wasn't going to reach anyone.

So I found a quiet spot and shared my frustrations with Jesus. We discussed my doubts, my human failings, my insecurities about my work. After sharing with Jesus my burden didn't seem so overwhelming. Jesus was faithful as always and gave me his mighty power to finish the work. He reminded me it's not about the end, it's about the journey and what we learn on that journey.

That wisdom was timely.