Friday, April 10, 2009

Muse Blogs...

Hi, I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Janet’s Muse. She calls me Muse, so I guess you can call me that, too. And you probably want to know why she’s not here today. She had a couple of ideas for a blog post and had done some research so links could be added for extra enjoyment and education – then disaster hit. Someone had to step in and we certainly didn’t want Evil Editor on the keyboard. Ha, this page would be blank because he’d type something then erase it, searching for a better word or phrase. Then he’d change subjects thinking another idea would be more exciting. I’m surprised everyday when the ink is allowed to dry on my ideas!

Just a minute. EE is sitting next to my, commenting on my horrific grammar and overuse of flowery adjectives. What?

Fine, I’m sorry. Yes, you have wonderful revision skills.

And they say I’m temperamental.

Where was I? Oh, yes, disaster. The partial out on submission came back rejected on Wednesday. I was with her when she went to the post office. We’re busy plotting Gillian and Mac’s story and I’m with her 24/7 as we bounce ideas around and work through to the black moment. But I digress. We’d all been expecting news since it had been 11 weeks, the agent’s guidelines listing 8 to 10 weeks for partials. I believe Janet was going to send a follow up e-mail this weekend. No need now. As soon as she pulled the mail from the postal box, we knew. An envelope addressed to her, in her own handwriting. The dreaded SASE.

Now a little part of me – because I am an optimist – thought no worries. Just because her own envelope came back there could still be great news in there. A letter to inform us that, yes, the partial lived up to the agent’s expectations and she would love for us to send the full, ASAP. I was excited. Janet? Not so much. Her shoulders slumped. But, I give her credit; she stood at the counter and opened that envelope. Pulled out the original letter she had sent and then the form letter from the agent. Sadly, it did not express excitement and a demand to see more.

I expected a little down time, a little wallowing in self-pity. But then we would continue on. Work, work, work. After all, this is the woman who talks about getting back to the agent quest, send out another batch of queries. She spouts the theory that you should celebrate a rejection because it means you’re sending stuff out there, actively pursuing publication. But this rejection has hit her hard. And she’s seriously considering shelving Lady Bells.

My work! My beautiful, well thought out, carefully plotted work – shelved! I don’t think so! I slaved over that manuscript and there’s no way it’s getting shoved under a bed or stored on a CD to collect dust.

What?

Sorry, EE would like to add that he, too, spent a considerable amount of time editing and polishing this novel. We both have a great deal of time invested in Lady Bells and we both believe it’s great. And she promised us 100 tries. A hundred query letters sent to agents and publishers. We’ve read the statistics, we know about the Stephen King’s of the world. Rejection is a given. Quitting is not!

So, I need to get her back in the query saddle. I need her to get over this pity party and get back to business. This is where you come in – oh, I’m sorry, did you think I was writing this to get sympathy for Janet? Well, you were wrong. There will be no blowing sunshine up her skirt in the comment section – we already know who the brilliant writer is – moi.

Yes, yes, and EE.

We’re not giving up. So, your job is to offer suggestions to get over rejection (or even writer's block). What do you do to traverse the bump in the road and move on toward your destination? Do you give yourself a set number of days (I’ll average them out and give her that time, but no more, neither one of us is getting any younger)? Do you have a special place for rejection letters? Any rituals that EE and I can help Janet carry out (keeping in mind there will be no sacrificing of anything)? Perhaps an indulgence reserved for this special occasion only?

I look forward to your advice – and remember, don’t join the pity party. Thank you for your time.

Muse.

What?

Oh, and EE.

29 comments:

Lu said...

So here's a link:

http://institutechildrenslit.net/Writers-First-Aid-blog/

Huge hugs,
Lu
P.S. Stoopid agent!!!!

Captain Hook said...

I don't have a huge amount of experience with rejections (so far I've only sent out one short story that I've received 11 rejections for). The only advice I can think to give is to distract yourself.

Write something else for a month before going back to Lady Bells and seeing if there was anything you missed that might make it better.

Ask new people to critique it *hint* and see if the critiques spark anything new.

Or (and I plan on this one myself), hand a list of agents and copies of the ms to your oldest child and tell him/her to deal with it because you don't want to. I know my kids never let me give up.

Silver James said...

Make a copy of the rejection letter and then burn it in effigy. (Keep the original so you can get tax credit, lol) I let my inner b...erm...witch say "incantations" while it burns.

My Muse grabs scissors and threatens to hunt the editor/agent to the ends of the earth and cut chunk of her/his hair out. My EE tsks and mutters about my paying more attention to her lessons.

Me? After 30 years, I tend not to brood. I go back to work on the WIP. But it still hurts. And you still get anxious. Even after a sale, there's the nail-biting anxiety when the next one gets submitted (still waiting to hear if my editor will buy the second in my trilogy).

Wallow for a little bit then pick yourself up, dust off your britches and get back to work. (The book I sold was turned down by an agent last year... Just sayin'.)

Karen said...

I have a couple of favorite quotes from Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture (Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams).

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted."

This is my personal favorite and the one I quote to myself on a regular basis.

"The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enought."

I don't have a lot of (or any) rejection experience but it's sure to come. If I ever get the darn thing written. Which at the moment seems unlikely - oops, sorry this is supposed to be about Janet. My son is big on burning his school work in the backyard fire pit at the end of the year. When my time comes I think I might try his method.

hugs,

Karen

Jana Richards said...

Hey Janet,
Good suggestions from Lu, the Captain and Silver. Rejections suck.

One thing that helped me is support from writing friends. When I was at a low point and almost gave up a few years ago, my friends pulled me through. So let me tell you my friend, that you are a gifted writer. I love what I've read so far of Gillian and Mac's story and I know you can make it work. Captain is right: work on something else for a while. Give yourself a chance to breathe and then maybe when you go back to Lady Bells you'll have a new game plan.

Take care,
Jana

Ebony said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I

would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have

enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Elaina

http://www.craigslistmaster.info

Muse said...

Lu, nice to meet you. Thank you so much for the link. I've been over and had a look - fabulous! I've also added it to Janet's favorites so when she returns to her computer it'll be there waiting for her.

Thank you for the support - I will share the hugs with Janet and EE.

Muse said...

Excellent advice, Captain Hook (and nice to meet you!). Right now, I believe she's distracting herself with a romance novel and romantic comedy movies.

I do believe we need fresh eyes on Lady Bells. There is no contact information on your profile page, so if you e-mail Janet, perhaps she'll take you up on your offer.

I love your idea of letting your kids send the stuff out. Janet has only a large, annoying German Shepherd who has been banned from the post office. But EE and I will look into renting a child for that purpose.

And I'm sorry about your rejections.

Muse said...

Ah, Silver, EE and I would love to meet your muse and ee - they sound like wonderful people.

I like the burning idea - we could do that. I know she has all of her rejections pinned to the bulletin board, so we could do more than one (or plan a full ceremony for one night when the moon is full).

Good luck with your next book, hopefully you hear back soon.

Muse said...

Great quotes, Karen - and nice to finally meet you (I've read over Janet's shoulder and love your work). And no where in my blog did I say you can't hold your own pity party - just don't join Janet's.

More burning - I'm sensing a theme here. This may need to be ceremonial, as I said to Silver, and maybe we need to invite other disheartened writers (I know where Janet stores her wine supply).

Muse said...

Thank you for your kind words, Jana. Somedays it's hard to get my brilliance on paper with EE and Janet constantly second guessing my ideas and, well, brilliance. Gillian and Mac are progressing - I have some great ideas once Janet gets back to the computer.

Yes, friends really do help. I know that Janet gets super motivated after her writing meetings. Her contact with writers through the blogs also helps. And her MSN chats really turn on the enthusiasm.

Muse said...

Nice to meet you, Ebony - and welcome to the blog. The Chicks do a fantastic job every week. I, myself, love to read all the posts and comments as I wait for Janet to open up a word document (don't tell her or EE, but I've even learned a thing or two).

I'm sure the Chicks would love to have you visit daily and add to the commentary if you are comfortable doing so. They have wonderful discussions here.

Erika said...

Since my first manuscript is unfinished I have no experience with rejection letters. However, I did read a book where the author took all the rejection letters out to the shooting range with him and used them as targets. Maybe relieve some aggression?

EE said...

Muse is off with Janet working out some issues with Gillian and Mac. I told her I would take care of the comments section for a while.

Please do not give Muse a gun. That's all I'm saying. I think that's an interesting idea, though. Definitely unique - thanks for sharing that, Erika.

Ishbel said...

From one Muse to the Other:
I'm called Lady in Red and I'm the unseen creature who stands glaring or smiling at Ishbel Moore (she'll be here tomorrow). It is indeed very difficult to watch your human suffer at the hands of agents and publishing houses after so many hours of diligent writing and editing. But I'll tell you...it's worse when the human stops writing altogether. This happened with Ishbel for a while due to one crisis after another, and I thought I was going to lose her. But she begged me not to leave, and of course...sigh...I stayed. Now it looks like just maybe we've started to rise again and I'm holding my breath. So, what I'm trying to say is...yes, even a rejection is a good thing because it means you're still producing. Some day, BELIEVE, diligence will prevail and success will follow. Thank you for listening. (You too, Ishbel!)

Anita Mae Draper said...

So, we finally get to meet you, Muse. Janet has spoken very highly of you although she hasn't seen fit to bestow you with a name, yet. Tell me, is this a rite of passage thing? Like...you inspire her...she gets pubbed...you get a name?

Regardless, you can listen to all these other people advise her to burn or shoot her rejection letter but really, what good will that do? What Janet needs is revenge! And yes, I have the answer. Tell her to visit here...
http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/opll/

...right now - without delay - toute de suite...well, what are you waiting for, Muse?

ban said...

wish i had a muse to visit me during the day - mine only drops by after dark, usually just as i'm falling asleep, then she's off ! i too have no experience with rejection letters, then again i have no experience with actually finishing a story so janet's got me beat on both counts. 'keep at it' is all i can say. writing is as much for the author as it is for the reader - speaking of which ... i wouldn't mind a peek at lady bells - you already have my email :D

Muse said...

I'm back. Thank you EE for stepping in - and I read the comment about the gun. You've seen my picture on the blog post, do I look dangerous?

Lady in Red - I sense a kindred spirit. A pleasure to have you visit. And your words of wisdom are so true. People think we're just flights of fancy, but when our people hurt, we hurt.

EE and I are much stronger in our belief that Lady Bells will succeed. Janet, for whatever reason, is more pessimistic. With the advice given here and our constant nagging, I'm sure she'll get back to believing as well.

I look forward to your human's guest blog tomorrow.

Muse said...

Anita, glad to see you. I'm afraid that I will be known as Muse forever. And EE, well, will be EE forever. I am the creator of characters and their names - Janet's imagination lacks in that department. Her first dog - the one she and her husband got shortly after they moved south - was named MC Dog, short for Murray (her maiden name) Corcoran's Dog! Not a lot of thought went into that.

Loved the link - I wish Janet's rejection letters were not all form letters. I've noted the name of the first book, already published, and will inform Janet. Wouldn't that have some fodder for future stories!

Muse said...

ban, lovely to meet you. I might say be careful what you wish for - I know there are days when Janet wishes I would leave her alone. It's gotten to the point where she has notebooks stashed everywhere (glove compartment, bedroom, drawer in desk at work, upstairs, downstairs - even a teeny, tiny one in her wallet with a golf pencil). And sometimes I can hear her chant "go away, go away". I usually ignore her.

Does anyone have an idea for writing down ideas in the shower?

BTW - I believe her 'meet' will be from Lady Bells and thank you for the offer of reading.

Captain Hook said...

I didn't realize that I don't have an email on there. It's capthook616@gmail.com

ban said...

yes, fingerpaints ! i've got three different colors in mine. (two kids - 6 and 2 :) and i've got my share of notebooks too. one in the purse, the laptop bag, the diaper bag, tucked under my mattress ...

Hayley E. Lavik said...

I don't have experience in rejection to offer any suggestions beyond the advice everyone else has given. There are a lot of great ways to turn a negative around, learn from it, build on it. And they're all very helpful... but if Janet's throwing a pity party, the music will be too loud to hear.

So before sage advice comes distraction! Day of wallowing in pity. Day of anger at wallowing. Then cheesecake. Or chocolate. Or that exotic tea waiting to be tasted. Turn the bitter taste of rejection into a reward, and give Janet some nice little indulgence for submitting, for persevering, and for continuing to work toward publication after rejection. If she's going to keep throwing that pity party and give up, then no treat for Janet.

Just my thoughts. Bribery is a lovely tool, and self-smack-down also seems to help me get cracking when I'm languishing in idleness.

Good luck cracking the whip... unless that's EE's weapon of choice *waggles eyebrows*

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Oh and if Janet wants another set of eyes on the MS, I actually have time after next Wednesday. Happy to offer what help I can.

Muse said...

Fingerpaints! I am putting it on her list of things to get when she goes into the city to shop. Thank you, ban.

Muse said...

Hayley, lovely to see you here (I know from reading your blog over Janet's shoulder that you are in the middle of exams).

Bribery! Now, that's an interesting plan. EE and I will have to have a closed door meeting and see what we can devise. I know she has a weakness for potato chips and scotch. Yes, this might work. Thank you.

And I will pass your offer of a manuscript read to Janet.

No, EE, she said cracking the chip, not whip. You're not getting any more whips for your arsenal.

Molli said...

Okay, Muse. First, sorry I'm late. Second, here's a cliche that I've used on myself (western themed, of course): when you fall off the horse you have to get right back on again. Sounds heroic, eh? Yeah, and frankly it's true (otherwise it wouldn't be a cliche). But (you knew there'd be a but, right?) there are times when you need to walk around the corral a bit first to work out the kinks that came from the landing. How many turns around you take depends on how hard the landing was.

Was the agent's letter purely form (ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, roll around moaning), or was there anything in the way of a comment (ouch, ouch, maybe a moan or two and a gentle rub of the contact area). As for finding the nerve to get back on again here's what I've done: pulled out the feedback already received from sources I consider objective and knowledgeable (was it positive? or am I being stubborn?), looked again at my work and compared it to what's being published in my target market, decided whether I'd told the story as I believed it needed to be told, then sent it out again. In your case, Muse, I don't know how long that, or whatever process Janet uses, is going to take, but I do know that story and her (sorry, your) writing (and yes, EE's contribution, too). They're as good as, and better than, many I've read from the bookstores. As has been said by others on this one, give Janet some time; if she needs to put Lady Bells away, it's okay; she has other stories to tell in the meantime. But I hope if she does that it's on the understanding that it's temporary, that she'll give it another go when she's rubbed some of the sting away and the bruises have faded. After all, a promise is a promise.

Janet C. said...

Hi, all - I'm back. First, thanks for indulging Muse. She does love to be heard and has been itching to do a blogpost since we started this adventure. She's been smug about her debut success all weekend :)

And thanks for all the great ideas for getting over this rejection. Already my mind is working, calculating my next move. As Molli said, I've walked around the corral, rubbed the bruises, wallowed a little in self-pity and am ready to get back at it.

And a heartfelt thanks to all that offered to read. I believe I'm going to take you up on it. Watch for the first three chapters (afterall, that's what's getting rejected at this point) coming your way soon. And, please be brutally honest - all of my rejections have been form and there's nothing to base changes on.

Again, thank you. Happy Easter.

connie said...

Janet,
My first rejection letter noted that they didn't like my plot nor my characters. So I framed it. I noted the address so I can send them a copy when somebody else publishes it.
My complaint is that it takes them months to reply. Do they think I will live forever?
Remember that Rawlinson's Harry Potter book was rejected too. (That editor is now digging ditches in Outer Slobovia). Now she can afford to buy the publishing house in question!
And when you do, (buy a publishing house that is)please promise you will be nice when you reject my book and I then I will promise to hire a capable hitman. connie