In the aftermath of #1st50, I thought now would be a good time to talk about putting yourself out there. Because, it’s tough. And when you get rejected, it feels like your book baby got turned into a bomb, and it just blew up in your face…
Why, oh why, oh why?
So why do we do it? Why don’t we just roll over and give up? Decide caring about stuff is too hard, and hide ourselves in a hole and never come out again?
Well, first off, if you’ve ever seen Inside Out, you should know that being sad is okay. It’s a necessary part of life. Nobody’s happy all the time. And if you don’t believe me then answer me this… would you be happy if this happened to you?
No. No you would not. But sometimes life isn’t fair, and huge man-eating sharks appear out of nowhere and just eat you. That’s just the way it is. Or maybe it isn’t… but one thing that can be guaranteed is that most people who enter competitions don’t win.
That doesn’t mean you should give up writing and never show your work to anyone ever again. In fact, it means quite the opposite.
But my soul has been crushed. How can I go on?
I know. It’s not easy. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. But here’s a few helpful tips to get you going again… Baby steps, people.
1) Give yourself some down time.
Eat all the ice-cream. Listen to your favourite music. Hang out with your mates. Take some time to enjoy the other stuff in your life.
2) Take some time to enjoy writing for writing’s sake.
Do it for you. For fun. In a scrappy old notebook that’s been chewed by the dog. Remind yourself why you love doing it. And why you could never possibly stop doing it, even if you wanted to.
3) Find your tribe.
Get yourself out there, either in the real world, or online.
Go on a course.
Join a writing group.
Make friends with other writers, people who know how it feels and can encourage you when you’re down. People who can give you helpful feedback so that you can learn and grow and keep improving.
And keep you going until you get struck by the most fantabulous idea that will blow the world away with your clever story arc, your brilliant metaphors and subplots, and your real characters that everyone loves and antagonists that everyone loves to hate. And you’ll know exactly how to write it, thanks to all that practice and feedback and learning how to keep going, even when it’s tough. Until your shiny new (or old and much improved) book baby is ready to go out into the world again.
And then everyone will love it, and no one will ever say anything mean that makes my shiny new book baby blow up in my face ever again… Right?
Erm, no. Sorry. I can’t promise you that. Because even then, even after all that hard work writing and learning and improving — when you finally send your most precious of all book babies out into the world for feedback — it will most likely also be turned into a bomb that blows up in your face. But then you take on that feedback, and you make it better. Then you send it out again. And get blown up all over again. Then you make it even better.
And you keep on going until it’s polished to the highest shine of all the shiny things in all the world and all the pain and heartache and hard, hard graft will be worth it. Not because the whole world will love it — because even if it’s published to high acclaim, winning all the awards, getting all the sales, there will still be people who hate it — but because you love it.
And that will make it all worth it. Every last bit.