Follow Through

Writing is not a path for the fainthearted. It takes a certain fortitude to occupy the solitude creative writing requires. It takes another kind of fortitude to weather the publishing game. Don't give up. Your manuscripts will be rejected. You will feel disappointed, sometimes miserably. You choose how to use that feeling—as an excuse to quit or motivation to try again. If it makes you feel better, write a nasty response letter to the editor who rejected your submission—don't send it! Then move on.

Again, examine the merit of an editor's response. Acknowledge the neverending revision process and revisit your manuscript. Send another manuscript right away. Whatever you do, keep writing.

It's comforting to realize that many established and well-respected writers have been rejected. The Diary of Anne Frank, one of the most widely read autobiographies in history, chronicles a young Jewish girl's experience under the Nazis. The manuscript originally was rejected because "The girl does not, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level." Stephen King's Carrie was turned down because the editors considered it "a negative Utopia." The editors told King, "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative Utopias. They do not sell." Carrie's record sales certainly proved that dismissal wrong. Finally, Joseph Heller's famous novel, Catch-22, which coined a new phrase in the English language, was turned down with this comment: "I haven't really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say... Apparently the author intends it to be funny—possibly even satire—but it is really not funny on any intellectual level... From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities."

Another way to pursue publication is to attend writing conferences. Conferences provide intensive writing workshops and opportunities to meet with other writers, editors, and agents. Writing conferences usually last from a weekend to five days. Often, conferences offer panels or readings that are open to the public. Check out conferences in your area and consider attending. The resources section (page 159) has a list of selected established writing events in various geographical regions.

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