Write Drunk, Edit Sober
Today I want to talk about rejection. Now, in the writing community, we talk about rejection a lot. There are twitter accounts and hashtags dedicated to rejection. Blogs about how to cope with someone saying, “nah, thanks though” or “I just didn’t connect with the story”.
But this is not that kind of rejection. I’m going to talk about the rejection you need to embrace during the weeks after you first hit “the end” on your draft. First, second, or third.
And I’m telling you this because I just sent my baby off to betas and I’m learning how to do this as I write.
Literally. My kick-ass beta reader/ world-class writing diva is sending me notes via text about how to rip. My baby. Apart.
In the best possible way.
Rejection is more than just hearing “no” from other people. It’s learning to say it yourself. It’s learning to reject your own ego, which helps you reject the parts of your story you might have loved but can’t get to fit. It’s rejecting the idea that you NEED to be querying by a certain date.
In August 2013, I had a baby. She’s cute, and I love her. But after I had her, I was in a schlump. This could have been because I didn’t listen to my doctor when she told me that pregnancy weight wasn’t a joke and wound up gaining almost eighty pounds (though in my defense, it was hard to understand the full capacity of what she was saying while I chewed on a cold taco from Jack in the Box I found in my purse). It could’ve also been because having a baby is hard.
Anyway. As my daughter slept and I recovered from a C-section and the crushing realization that I didn’t push out an eighty-pound baby and shrink back to my old size, I realized I needed to write. I’d been writing seriously since 2011, but I was sick if dinking around. I was going to write. I needed to finish something. I needed to arrive.
So I set a deadline. December.
And I wrote. I wrote the best thing I could write in that state. It didn’t suck.
I did learn to be disciplined, but I didn’t learn to reject.
I didn’t reject my ego. It was a great idea, and that was enough. I felt like the coolest person in the room, going to workshops and loving how people’s eyebrows would raise with ooooh cool. That happened often enough where I started thinking I was infallible.
I also didn’t reject the bad things from my manuscript. My ego didn’t let me ask for help. My ego didn’t let me listen to my beta readers. And worst? It didn’t let me have the patience I needed to make the book the strongest it could be.
The December deadline was a good thing – kind of. It made it so I had 9000 word writing days and wrote an entire novel in less than two months. But it also gave me unrealistic expectations. I didn’t realize that I needed to stop, reject my ego, reject my timelines, and just tell a good story.
I didn’t reject me enough.
So I did wind up hearing “yes”. I did get excited and think I’d bypassed all those ‘dirt-poor, 1000 rejections’ writer stories. But I didn’t have something I could be proud of, and only after a year of torturous, ground-up rewrites did I realize that.
This is an important part of the rejection games. One of the most important, in fact, because we don’t talk about it enough.
I sit here, rethinking my second act and planning to cut several side characters. My weekend, which looked a lot like cooking and napping, now looks like me curled up in front of my computer.
I’m rejecting the part of me that wants to say good enough. I’m rejecting the part of me that tells me I’m tired and I don’t want to.
It may be hard now, but mastering this will make the rejection less frequent and less harsh down the road.
I’m rejecting me, and this will be a better story for it.
Hand me the highlighters, baby. Let’s do this.