Consolation a la Rachel Vater

This lovely post is a gift to all writers, from Rachel Vater’s blog:

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.

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One Response to “Consolation a la Rachel Vater”

  1. Lotus Sanderson Says:

    I am one of those people you described in your last paragraph. In college my creative writing teacher praised a final essay I did on death and dying, claiming that it was the best she had ever read and encouraging me to pursue a writing career. Years and years later I found myself faced with the daunting destiny of writing a novel based on my own journey of meeting a group of evolved beings who created our world through mere thought and share an urgent message about our hidden and shocking heritage.
    I wrote that entire book without once thinking about the words of my beloved professor. I never once looked back on life and recalled how much I love to write. I simply wrote the book, it was hard material, and took a long time to perfect. An editor I worked with spoke to that effect, “you are probably writing one the most difficult stories ever… and you are creating a new genre at the same time.”
    I finished this novel several months ago and am now working on finding an agent. This evening I went for a walk and for the first time (to my surprise) I had a moment of profound realization: I have a writer’s mind. I remembered my childhood love of writing… I write books in my sleep, I fall asleep with great sentences tumbling out of consciousness, my mind quite simply, seems to innately write about anything and everything. What a liberating moment: as you said so well… “fall in love with writing all over again.” funny that I would realize this, remember this only after writing such an involved story over so many years.
    Thank you for your inspiring words and the work that you do.
    Lotus Sanderson

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