Consolation a la Rachel Vater
Consolation and Inspiration for frustrated writers
So… many of you may have gotten Snarked. Many of you may be sighing over rejection letters. Maybe you didn’t get an agent this year. Maybe you didn’t sell your book. But the New Year is coming up, and there’s no better time than now to strengthen your resolve to become a successfully published author.
There’s hope. All writers have to learn the ropes. One of my dearest clients sent me the most dreadful query letter in the beginning but the best opening pages that had me laughing so hard I requested the whole thing immediately. And, as you may know if you’ve read this blog faithfully, another of my clients got rejected by me four times before I took her on. The first time, she got a form rejection and I don’t even remember that query. But she kept at it. She got a personal response from me the next time, and she just kept improving her query and her manuscript each time until it was so fantastic I couldn’t say no to it.
So if you get a rejection, even a form rejection, don’t take it to mean you have no talent and you’ll never be a published author. It means “not now” from that particular agent. Look your query over. Think about ways you can improve your work. Above all, don’t quit. Don’t give up. Get some friends to read it over for you. Read more books. Keep finding new ways to make your opening grab attention and hold onto it. Keep finding ways to make your character more winsome, the conflict more evident, the stakes higher. You can do it.
And enjoy yourself. Live a life where you’re open and aware of what excites you, makes you happy, moves you, hurts you, scares you, makes you feel triumphant, cracks you up, turns you on, infuriates you and motivates you. You can give these experiences to your readers. Keep track of smart sentences you come across in novels you read, the ones that make you stop and think. Or the smart character description that says so much in so few words, or the sizzling moments that make your hair stand up… or the places that scare you so much you can’t take your eyes off the page. Type them into a document for inspiration. Save them for when you need inspiration about how to evoke the same emotion in your readers. Save those moments in the newspaper that you find too irresistible to stop reading. Sometimes truth is far stranger than fiction. But pay attention to that hook, that element that compels you to read the whole article and look for more.
Indulge your senses over the holidays. Think. Relax. Laugh. Read. Enjoy your friends and family.
Then start fresh — revived and determined.
Remember why you love it. Writing is cathartic, joyful, creative, exciting. Writing helps you explore characters, experience the world, share your view, and captivate a reader you’ve never even met. Storytelling is a gift we give each other. Learning to do it well is an admirable, rewarding endeavor.
And I applaud all of you who rise to the challenge, who choose to think like a writer, who sit for those long hours with the keyboard in front of you or the pen in your hand, who dare to dream and share those dreams with others. You’re all brave and wonderful people.
Please share a happy reason you like to write or feel compelled to tell your stories. When did the writing bug get you? Do you love telling stories and making people laugh? Did your English teachers always say you should be an author when you grew up? Have you been writing since you could hold a pencil? What’s the best rush you get when you write and why? Share some inspiration, and fall in love with writing all over again.