Friday, May 15, 2009

Neurotic? Oh yeah!

On Wednesday I told you about my first experience with a manuscript being rejected. So I thought I'd share with you the downward spiral of my thinking last summer. No, I didn't have these thoughts often, but when they occurred I wanted them to go away. Pronto.

Here's the setting: summer, home, not working on a new book (mistake #1), studying books on craft in a vain attempt to learn something, trolling through writer's sites on the Internet, and trying to avoid the following thought process.

In Jill's head:

A form rejection! Form rejection. That's bad. That means my writing is so bad, they can't even sign their name. If they sign their name, it means they see something in my writing, but they didn't. Why couldn't I have gotten a signed rejection? There's hope with that. But not with a form. No hope...

Do they keep the worst manuscripts ever submitted just to take out and laugh at every now and then? I wonder if they post a really bad first page on their bulletin board and throw darts at it? Surely they don't have time for they? What if they do?! My book is on an editor's bulletin board and someone has drawn a bulls-eye around it and they are all taking turns throwing darts at it. And they're laughing--ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...

What if they put a long note in their computer next to my name that says something like, Don't ever read anything by this author again. Or, Writing so bad, I threw up. Or This one will give you the hives. Or even, If I ever read anything this terrible again, I'll quit the industry...

What am I going to do now? I don't want to give up on my dream, but what if my dream is unattainable? What if I'll never be good enough? Wait a minute...

I don't ever want anyone looking at my work again. It's childish. It's poorly written. It's lame. I'll never improve. Do you have to be born with talent? Am I deluding myself?

Oh no! I'm one of those American Idol contestants who thinks he's the best singer ever and doesn't even comprehend how bad he really is! I might as well burn every piece I've ever written and tear my robe and put on sackcloth and shave my head and...

How embarrassing! I told all of my family and friends that I'm writing and they know I submitted a manuscript. I have to tell them this crummy news. Will they pity me? Will they shake their heads and wonder how to break it to me that I should quit? Do I have to tell them I completely stink?

Stink... Do I smell too? I'd better check the armpits. I can't tell. Maybe my deodorant is working properly. At least something is working properly and I know it isn't my word selections. If only they had deodorant for bad writing, you know, to cover up the stench of no talent.

I could make a fortune if I came up with that deodorant...

Back to reality.

Okay, so you can see the downward neurotic spiral. The worst part was the more I tried to avoid the thoughts, the more they kept pounding in my head. I finally embraced them. I realized I needed to deal with the pain and doubts swimming in that crazy brain of mine.

Crazy Stairs
Photo by outcast104

I surrendered. When I listened to my heart, when I dropped to my knees and prayed, I knew I'd be okay.

A form rejection--any rejection--is just part of the process. It's not the final grade on your writing. It's just a stepping stone. It can paralyze you. It can motivate you. It can do both. But it can't kill your dream--only you can do that.

Enjoy your weekend!


  1. LOL! I think all writers are a neurotic bunch. :)

    Author Jenny Crusie once gave a hilarious speech on her early rejections: they were form rejections, not even original copies, and they were copied crooked. LOL!! Talk about a low blow to the ego!
    And look at her now...

  2. Jill, I think you ought to put your whole summer neurosis into a book. That was too funny how it spiralled into deodorant even!!

    You never know, maybe that got a form letter rejection because they just aquired a similar story and didn't take the time to even read it due to time retrainst and given they'd filled that availability already. Think the most positive and keep on writing. Just from your posts I know no editor is going to mock your words. You're too good a writer.

  3. I loved the way you described your thoughts. I'm quite certain I've gone down that same pathway in my thoughts after a rejection. Isn't it funny, the one thought where we think they might all be calling each other, marking out our names with a gigantic red marker. :D

    I appreciated how you ended this post!
    ~ Wendy

  4. okay - that was halarious and so true at the same time! Thanks for sharing Jill - it's good to know i'm not the only one. :)

  5. Happy Friday morning! It's a gorgeous day here--hope it's sunny where you are too!

    Jennifer: Yes, look at her now! I can only dare hope...

    Eileen: I'm not going to lie to you, the neurosis really never ends for me! And I love to exaggerate, even to myself, so my brain is the perfect breeding ground. I'll be honest with you--I didn't know what I was doing with my first four books. They weren't bad, but they weren't publishable.

    Wendy: I had this picture in my mind of a room filled with editors just laughing hysterically. Narcissism? Yes. The world revolves around my ups and downs--ha! ha!

    Katie: Oh, you aren't the only one! The great thing about crummy feelings is at least we can use them in our books.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  6. LOL We think alike! I will admit it here to you--can't bring myself to say it on my blog. I discovered last night I sent the wrong UNedited version of a story to a big contest! UGH. Now do you think I beat myself up for that one or what?? I finally admitted it to my husband last night that I knew now I didn't have a shot at winning for sure now! AND I wasted the entry fee.

  7. Terri: Wouldn't you just die if it did final?? Seriously! I sometimes wonder if my worst version isn't my best?? Ha! Ha!

    And don't feel bad. I realized a few weeks ago that I'd misplaced a comma in the very first line of the query I sent. Pathetic.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Okay, Jill, I take back my last comment on your previous post about you taking it in stride :) You were right. BUT you're still writing, rejection and all. Yay! It's a good thing, too, because you're writing in the post was wonderful. I like the picture of the brain, too. Definitely drew me in :)

  9. Great post! I think all those thoughts are completely normal when a rejection comes along, especially the first rejection ever.

  10. Have you been spying in my windows? Reading my journal? How did you know?????

    Too funny!

  11. Thanks for sharing this, Jill. I'd say it was funny, but at least for me, it rings a little too true to be totally funny. But, I'm glad you realize it's just part of the process. I'm a staff editor for an online journal now, and I'm getting used to be the sender of the rejections rather than the recipient. It really puts a spin on things because I know that I personally feel bad for sending them and that I'm not making fun of the writer when I do. It's nothing more than the business of the publishing world, and it helps with efficiency.

  12. Cindy: I'm put together on the outside but a hot mess inside--and I'm not afraid to share it!

    Melissa: You're absolutely right. I wish every new writer full of hopes and dreams knew it too, except they'd probably say, "Oh, that won't happen to ME." :)

    Tess: Sorry, I haven't been spying--but maybe we were twins separated at birth?? Ha!

    Davin: Come on, it IS funny! Reality always is. I'm so happy for you that you're an editor. How exciting! I'm sure it's painful sending or receiving rejections, but it's all part of the journey.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. This is too funny and too true. It is so hard to get a form rejection. I'm trying to develop a hard shell, but I take it hard. I would love to be a fly on the wall of some big shot editor and just see exactly what does go on while they are reading our ms, lol!

  14. Kara: Welcome and thank you for stopping by! I'm pretty sure editors are way too busy to do more than glance at a non-winning manuscript, but it's fun to take it to the next level!

    Have a great weekend!

  15. lol...that was awesome! And I can imagine ME having that same conversation with myself when I start getting rejection slips...and I WILL get them, I know! Ah, the fate of the writer!

  16. Beautiful thoughts. It's kind of amazing with all the normal rejections we face every that we as writers seek out even more.

    I love your advice on dealing with those hard thoughts of rejection rather than letting them continue to spiral out of control.


    You're not alone. :D

  17. Hello, I'm so glad I stopped here before doing anything else tonight, this morning actually. I am right there with you, feeling every emotion, experiencing the pull toward a total collapse into tears.But no, can't do that!

    It still surprises me when I get to that place you describe in the beginning of your downward spiral because I think I had it all under control. It also amazes me how much we beat ourselves up and, how much effort it takes to shake it off and move on.

    The process continues to be a work in progress for me.

  18. Sherrinda: I wouldn't be too sure about that--you were smart and found a critique partner before you are going to submit. That's a huge bonus!

    Danyelle: Thanks for the kind words. It is amazing what we put ourselves through, isn't it?

    Dellgirl: Welcome and thanks for stopping by my blog! I used to try to avoid the negative emotions, but now I roll with them. I figure it will help me empathize with my characters and write with more emotion. Anytime you're feeling defeated, stop on by! We'll get through the tough times!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  19. I think we all have those really doubtful moments, no matter where we're at in the journey. Even after finaling in the Genesis, I find myself doubting myself. I think, can I ever get my books polished enough to attract an agent or editor? Am I making a fool with agents? Are they sitting around throwing darts at my queries?

    You're right, we can wallow in our insecurities, or keep persevering!

  20. Jody: A big, huge, tremendous CONGRATS!! Double-finalling in the Genesis contest!! Awesome!

    As soon as one insecurity is overcome, another takes its place--at least that's how it is in my world!

    At least we can laugh about it!
    Thanks for stopping by!


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