Walter's Writing Blog

Dealing With Rejection

So as writers, one of the things that you deal with most often when you want to get something published – by a publishing house, and not self-published – is the issue of rejection.  It’s not something that is easily brushed off, and it can negatively affect your mindset.

I originally submitted my Migration series to a publishing house, and after a couple of months, they gave me some good feedback with a, “Sorry, but we’re going to pass right now.  But make the changes and resubmit!”  I took it to heart, and made the changes that they asked for, then resubmitted.

Well, after making the requested changes and waiting more than four months, today I get the, “No thanks,” rejection email.  The publisher was nice, but the reviewer made it seem like I had offended them and not made any suggestions they gave.

Ehh…  Oh well.

The problem, however, is the self-doubt that comes out of the process.  Migration is a hard story to tell, because you have to build the world up before you can destroy it, and I do just that.  There’s a prologue that gives you some of the necessary data about the story, and then a 2 chapter buildup.  It all amounts to about 10,000 words that the specific publisher is saying needs to be cut.

Can I do it?  Can I hack my baby up into smaller pieces – going from the original 85,000 words, down to the 78,000 words post-initial submission rejection, to maybe 68,000 words?  Without sacrificing the whole of the story?

I get it – I really do.  And part of me wants to jump on the bandwagon and make those changes instantly; that’s the part of me that wants instant gratification, and seeks out approval.  But there’s the other part of me that wants to stand tall, tell the critics to get bent, and self publish.

So I’m going to compromise.  I’m going to hack it down some, and then see how I like it.  If I do, then I’ll go with the new version.  But if it sacrifices too much, then I’m going to bail, go back to my original storyline, and self publish.  Only time will tell what path I decide to go down.

But first, I’m going to self-publish our (me and my coauthor Lisa’s) nonfiction travel book.  I would like to get that out the door, published, and off my plate so that I can focus on the Migration series.

So that’s how my birthday went!  How about you?

The Problem With Kudos

So here’s the thing.  I’m working on my original works, but in order to keep practicing, I like to still write different things.  For me, that means writing fanfiction, because there is such potential to learn and grow, and the feedback can be both heartwarming as well as nearly instantaneous.  I know that writing a book means that there’s not one certain place, like a personal blog or such, where you will get feedback on your writing.  So it helps me when I write fanfiction to get that feedback from the people reading your work.

Except for the kudos.

If you’re not familiar with kudos, it’s a nice little way of saying, “Good for you,” or “Good job” or the like for a piece of your work.  It can be anonymous, or it can come from a person.  A kudos, though, is like looking over an overflowing dessert table with dozens of different sweet treats available, but only being able to take a single, nondescript nibble from one of the items.  Sure, it’s nice, but you know that there can be so much more.  So in a word, it’s just not fulfilling.

My latest work is in an obscure fandom, for a pairing that may not even exist.  I love the BBC’s Atlantis, and there seems to be a storyline coming up that will pit the sweet, somewhat dorky Pythagoras with the doomed character Icarus.  We have but a taste of the pairing from the Season 2, Part 2 teaser trailer, but what it is looks heartbreaking.  It intrigues me to no end.

So in a writing community that I belong to, there is a time when you can get a picture prompt and then write a story that is exactly 1,000 words (for it is said, a picture is worth 1,000 words).  When I received my picture, the story featuring Pythagoras and Icarus laid itself out in my head, and I knew I had to write it.  And once I did, knowing the Atlantis community is small, and the Pythagoras/Icarus community even smaller, I did a post on tumblr to help promote it.  It worked, because I got some feedback on the story like below.


So that’s good, right?  I get called a “lovely author” (though the tumblr reccer assumed that I was a girl – it happens in the “slash” writing world, trust me), and even a “This fic is so, so good and so, so painful.”  Sounds good, right?  But here’s the thing; people are so focused on SHINY! and diverting of attention, that we can’t be bothered to leave reviews anymore.  Indeed, this fic that I wrote and got such nice words written about shows up on the archive where I wrote it as such:



Two kudos, and not a single review.  Why?  Because clicking “Kudos” is so much easier than the critical thinking and time it takes to actually write a review.  And while I get it, it doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

Trying To Stay Positive

So there comes a time when you’re working on something, and you need feedback.  When you’re in the fanfiction type realm, you can get this pretty easily, because you’re writing for others in your fandom and get nearly immediate feedback.  It can be addicting.

Writing an original work of fiction – be it a book or whatever – is a lot like writing in a silo, because you’re working on a subject and with characters that are speaking to you and only you.  They are not a shared experience, and how you see your characters and describe them is totally different than someone else may see them.  That is the most apparent in the unpublished status, because the characters have only developed in your head, and exist only on your page.

It’s important to get feedback on your writing, both from friends that know and are used to your style, and from strangers as well.  The friends will give you the feedback that you’re used to getting, and if they’re good friends, will give you the constructive criticism that you are also looking for.

The strangers?  That can be a crapshoot.

For instance, I’ve had exactly three strangers read over the first two chapters of the first book in the Migration series.  One of them has been honest, saying what did work, what didn’t work, and what needed to be tweaked.  She just happens to now also be the person that I’m having edit the book; she brought to the table a level of trust with her comments and critiques that I asked to work with her and she accepted.

The second person absolutely hated the book.  Well, not just the book, but every single thing about it.  They even hated the title.

The third person got back to me today, and they had some really good constructive criticism about the book, even though they said that they didn’t like it.  There were specific examples given, and indeed, those are things that I struggled with in the book in it’s pre-edited form.  But there were things that I absolutely didn’t agree with – but that’s because I know the characters well, and can defend them saying X or doing Y, when there is explanation beyond that first couple of chapters.

In all, it can be pretty disheartening when you get feedback about something you love.  I mean it’s good to get the right feedback; we shouldn’t all end up dittoheads, automatically liking everything exactly the same.  But at the same time, you have to learn – or better to say I have to learn – to stay positive about the situation.  Because in the end, even if nobody else likes what I’ve written, even after it’s been massaged and gussied up, I will still like it.