That First Rejection

A few weeks ago I got my first rejection.

…well, no, I suppose that’s not really true. I was a high-performing (read: highly competitive and highly active) student in school, and I modeled as a child. I’ve been rejected. Often. This, however, was the first rejection I cared about.

On a whim, I applied to a program that I really know I had no business getting into, at least not right now. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, but I’ve been slacking where it comes to honing my abilities. I write, but I don’t finish and I don’t edit (not well). Still, this was a program with a speaker that I really admire and it was not out of the realm of possibility for me.

So I applied.

And I waited.

I started getting anxious. (Which is rare enough for me since I couldn’t do anything about it, so normally I don’t worry.)

And I waited some more.

Then I got my rejection.

God, it hurt. I have a few friends who knew that I was freaking myself out about this and I had a mini-breakdown with them. Then — surprisingly to me, as I have no previous experience with this thing called “disappointment” — I got over it. I saw my rejection for what it was (more of a “please try again next year” than an outright “please, burn that and never write again”), realized that my style of writing wasn’t even that great of a fit for most of the instructors, and I moved on.

I’m not going to print the e-mail out or tape it to my wall. I know that I got rejected. Believe me, I know and I’m not going to forget it anytime soon, nor would I want to forget it. But, it is a turning point for me.

Since I ended up writing three short stories in the span of two weeks — all of which weren’t all that bad, but were far from the quality of work I get from my fanfiction (yes, fanfiction) — I learned something. I want to be a writer, so I need to write. It may seem like a ridiculous thing not to already know, but I wanted to be a writer, and I hadn’t really been writing. I’d been sketching things out now and then, coming up with ideas, outlining, but I haven’t finished anything.

The first rejection is important because it shows that you’re really working toward your goal. It means that you’ve finished something, and that you’re willing to put yourself out there to find your niche. Getting that first rejection is important for another reason. It takes away that fear. Once you’re told that you’re not right for something you really wanted, it makes rejection the “known,” not the scary “unknown.” The second rejection is easier, and eventually it just goes in the drawer.

Have you been rejected before? How do you deal with it?

 

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A Born Writer?

Are Writers Born or Made?

This is one of the most enduring questions in the writing and publishing world, and it’s impossible to really know the answer, but I’m going to give it a shot. To really answer this question, we have to define terms (my philosophy professor would be so proud). In particular, we need to define a writer.

Writer (n): one that writes, as an author

Author (n): 1. one that originates or creates, 2. the writer of a literary work (as a book)

In that case, anyone can be a writer because anyone can create or originate something, even a book. But, that doesn’t mean that what they create is any good. Even being published isn’t a guarantee of quality (as I’m sure all of you know). This begs, then, what people are really asking since the answer to that question is pretty simple – writers are made because no one is born knowing how to write.

But I Think Writers are Born

That’s right; I said it. I think that writers are born, not made. This isn’t to say that someone who has very few writing skills can’t learn to write better, but that’s not really what we’re talking about when we ask if writers can be made. We are really asking to be validated as a writer. We’re asking if we can be writers.

Just asking that question usually means that you were born as a writer, or a creator. It means that you have a kernel of a story lurking inside of you that’s just waiting to be told. You have something to say and you want to know if you can do it or if it’s really as easy as television and movies often make it out to be.

Granted, that doesn’t mean that you’ll get that six-figure advance or be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. It doesn’t mean that the book you write will be made into the next Twilight or The Hunger Games. You might never get read, even by your significant other or mother. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a writer.

A writer puts pen to paper (or finger to keys) because they have no other choice. They have ideas jockeying for position while they’re busy on their date-night (much to the chagrin of their hard-working spouse) and characters whispering in their ear as they go on their morning run (only to have to turn back because, dammit, they didn’t bring a pen). These people are going to keep telling stories whether they ever get published or not, and they are born.

But an idea does not mean that you can communicate it well. It does not make you a good writer. Practice makes you a good writer, and editing, and voice. Luck and hard work (mostly luck) are what make you a successful one.

Make Yourself a Better Writer

Practice.

Read.

Write. (Yes, that’s more practice.)

Then, when you have something workable, you have to keep working. Submit it, follow up, and submit it again. If it’s for you, self-publish. Either way, you need to market and keep writing.

I hope this is more encouraging than discouraging, as I think almost everyone can write if that’s what they truly want to do. They just need to — like in everything else — work at it and have some luck. What do you all think? Can writers be made or do you have to be born with it? What do you think makes you a writer?

 

It’s Finally Here!

I’ve done it. My HP blog (On the Train to Hogwarts – check it out) has been set up, although I’m still trying to figure out aesthetics. Technology really isn’t my thing, so it’s taking me a while. I also have several posts ready to go and waiting in the queue. This is why I’ve decided to move on to my next phase… my writing blog.

There’s a lot of information out there for writers, both good and bad. I’m going to try to work through all the information I get as I finish the writing that I’ve started, and the writing that’s yet to be done. It is going to be difficult and tiring and I will get grumpy at times, but I think it’s worth it.

So… you can expect me to start posting here this Tuesday. Everything isn’t finalized for the set-up of the blog, but I think it will work for me for the time being. I’ll write about writing, about my process, and about all of the advice that we get online or in “real life.” I think it’ll be interesting, and I hope you give me a shot.

I’ll see everyone on Tuesday!

– Brigid