People have been asking me what it’s like to have a writer for a mom for as long as I can remember. I always liked making up stories, but Mom has been my unfailing encourager and supporter throughout my writing life – my first editor, the first person I bounce new ideas off of. Mom wrote my stories down when I was too young to write myself (patiently taking time out of her own writing schedule for my extremely frequent interruptions). She typed my stories on request until I was about eight, when she taught me how to type. She gave me my first computer so I could work on my first book when I was ten. She took me to writer’s workshops, science fiction conventions, and weekly Southern Indiana Writers Group meetings, introduced me to other writers, editors, and publishers. We were our own little writer’s workshop while I was growing up, and still are, in a lot of ways. If either of us is stuck, we know the other will happily brainstorm with us over the phone.
Having an instant writing buddy in your mother is something you appreciate all the more when you’re around other writers later on, when you realize that most writers have to actively seek out other people who understand the process, the love, the frustration, the mindset that you can and will use anything as material, the sparks of inspiration, the terror of a blank page…. Writers are a little bit (or, in some cases, a lot) crazy, and it can be lonely when you’re the only one around. I consider myself extremely lucky to have always had someone around who gets it – who has as much fun as I do brainstorming story ideas, coming up with writing exercises and story challenges, explaining imaginary alternate endings to movies that could have been good (if we had written the script)…. So the answer is, having a writer for a mom is awesome. Thank you, Mom – for everything, but especially for your friendship and encouragement.
- Send your query or story out again to someone else. Immediately. Before you even feel an emotional reaction.
- Talk to another writer or your critique group. Most of the time, writers are really excited for their fellow wordsmiths’ attempts at publication and are highly supportive and encouraging in the “low” times. They may even suggest additional markets or resources, or help you pinpoint issues with your query letter itself.
- Do something nice for yourself. After all, you put yourself out there – and you’ll keep putting yourself out there, right? Right??? – so reward your own efforts. Buy yourself dinner or a book or a movie (hold off on the good Scotch until you get an acceptance. Alcohol is a depressant, after all.)
- Remind yourself that better writers than you have been rejected. They stuck with it and got published, and so will you.
- Write back (but don’t send it). Say the publisher/agent wrote, “Sorry, I’m just not sure what to do with this piece. It just isn’t quite what I’m looking for.” Okay, so you can’t really respond and make a big joke out of the guy who wrote this to you, but you can pretend you’re writing back. “Dear sir, what you can do with this piece is PUBLISH it. I have to tell you how to do your job now? Okay, but I want extra royalties for that.” Again, don’t actually send something like that to anyone. Ever. They won’t find it funny.
- If you’ve sent the piece/query out to, say 25 places, and haven’t had any luck yet, it may be time to look it over and consider reworking it. You don’t want to rewrite everything every time you get a rejection, but at least look it over after a big chunk of “no”s and see if anything pops out at you that could be done better.
- Think of every rejection as one step closer to the time someone says, “YES! I want your story!” Above all, don’t let it get you down when you get turned down. It happens to everyone (well, almost everyone – but we know about those people who get accepted their first try, right? Deals with the devil never pay off in the end…!) Rejections are to writers what sandworms are to the dead people in Beetlejuice – everyone hates ’em, but you have to deal with ’em if you want to get out into the world. Learn how to use them to
defeat Beetlejuice get published.