Thursday, February 28, 2008

Back At Work

My thanks to those of you who offered sympathy and encouragement after my recent lamentation about suffering yet another rejection, this one of a novel for which both my agent and I had high hopes. I've done a good bit of thinking over the past five days, trying to figure out if there's any reason for me to get back to writing. I mean, after all, why bother? The odds of having a novel accepted by a publisher are slim, the chances of it making it big are even slimmer. Chip MacGregor's blog recently indicated that, of the 250,000 books introduced into print last year, four sold a million copies, another fifteen sold half a million. That's less than 0.01% of the new books that were huge successes. And many editors will tell you privately that they are looking for authors whose fiction books will sell at least 50,000 copies. A daunting prospect, isn't it?

And why risk more rejection? I trust you're not surprised to learn that rejection is pretty much a given for a writer. Every successful writer I've ever met (and I've been fortunate enough to meet quite a few) tells a similar story: struggle, write, learn, get rejected, keep writing, eventually get published, continue to hone your skills, keep writing, get published again, get rejected (yes, it happens even to them), worry about deadlines, wonder if your next book is good enough....

So why should I get back to the computer and start writing again? As Anne Lamott points out in her wonderful book, Bird By Bird, writers write because it's just what we do. Of course, those of us who write Christian fiction or non-fiction do it because we feel a higher calling, essentially a ministry. But even without that, I believe that I would write. After five days of not opening my current work-in-progress I found myself wanting--no--needing to get back to it. I wanted to see what was going to happen to Dr. Anna McIntyre, who finds herself deep in difficulties that are not of her own making. So, I'm back. And I'm smiling.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yay! This is victory. Keep hammering away, Richard. You can do it.

You know, there's another way to look at those statistics which no one seems to address. Most keep pointing the fingers back at writers, telling them write "fresh, unique", but who decides what that is and who gets published? Not the writers.

I think the statistics also reveal that the "committee" approach to publishing is not failsafe. Too many opinions can ruin a good idea. (Think church board meetings.) Seriously, if an editor has something he believes in with a passion, why do all the people at the table have to concur? Marketing pipes up with, "I can't get a vision for how we can market this thing." A few more doubtful remarks, and the pitch is over.

Do what you do with a passion, Richard. Keep writing your heart's cry.

Sorry to be so long-winded.

Myra Johnson said...

I hear you, Dr. M! A real writer can't NOT write. I've lost count of how many times I "quit" only to realize I couldn't. It was finally at the 2007 ACFW conference that God impressed upon me the sense that if I quit, it would be my choice, not His. So I just have to keep doing the work and leaving the results to Him.

Linda Harris said...

I saw Rachelle's blog about this and jumped over here. Thanks for being vulnerable and open. I frequently ask myself, "Why am I doing this?" My answer always has to be, "Because God is asking me to do it, and I must be obedient." That's the bottom line for me. It doesn't matter if I think I'm inadequate; that's why God is asking me to do it, so he can receive the glory.

Anonymous said...

Richard,

God bless you for the transparency! I couldn't help but notice that the date of your blog posting coincides with the date my rejection letter was signed.

This was a pass from an agent who read my full ms, an agent I am quite impressed with and who will be getting a thank you note for the time spent considering my work. I am indebted to that commitment.

This of course after the obligatory 72 hour lament window and subsequent chocolate indulgence. :-)

I am truly grateful for what I learned in the process. The ms will now be relegated to fighting it out with other cotton fabrics in the drawer of my choosing.

In the meantime, I was considering the work rejection. The agent who read my full used the word "pass" which indeed may be more appropriate.

I cannot help but think of Passover and the sacrificial lamb ... the blood over the door posts. Perhaps I am waxing a bit too poetic than needs be but the irony of it struck me.

This manuscript of mine is a sacrificial lamb of sorts on my journey.

All this to say Richard, I am blessed to be in good company - yours.

And since it is a given that 99.9% of authors are passed over at some time, we can rejoice that we are among the given and it just so happens our time is now.

Blessings to you Richard, you're an encouragement.

I'll be heading back to my laptop again shortly to join you ...

david

Debbie said...

Richard,
I don't post often, perhaps I should, but I don't. I do, however, read others blogs and posts every day. I'm a regular reader of Rachelle's blog and one of the first emotions I felt upon discovering her and her page was gratitude. That someone with her workload and credentials would take the time to write a daily devotional (that's the way I view it) for her readers, is a blessing. The second thing I realized was that your postings-- whether intentional or not-- have a thread of hope woven into every single one of them. I have a feeling all your writing reflects that same treasured sincerity. So, should you feel the need to lay aside your pen or stop tapping that keyboard for awhile, that's permissable -- but know that awhile is all that is permissable. Someone with your perception and talent is a gift to all. Please, don't take that away.

david w. fry said...

Richard,

God bless you for the transparency! I couldn't help but notice that the date of your blog posting coincides with the date my rejection letter was signed.

This was a pass from an agent who read my full ms, an agent I am quite impressed with and who will be getting a thank you note for the time spent considering my work. I am indebted to that commitment.

This of course after the obligatory 72 hour lament window and subsequent chocolate indulgence. :-)

I am truly grateful for what I learned in the process. The ms will now be relegated to fighting it out with other cotton fabrics in the drawer of my choosing.

In the meantime, I was considering the work rejection. The agent who read my full used the word "pass" which indeed may be more appropriate.

I cannot help but think of Passover and the sacrificial lamb ... the blood over the door posts. Perhaps I am waxing a bit too poetic than needs be but the irony of it struck me.

This manuscript of mine is a sacrificial lamb of sorts on my journey.

All this to say Richard, I am blessed to be in good company - yours.

And since it is a given that 99.9% of authors are passed over at some time, we can rejoice that we are among the given and it just so happens our time is now.

Blessings to you Richard, you're an encouragement.

I'll be heading back to my laptop again shortly to join you ...

david