8.16.2011

Confessions of a Terrible Fighter

Maybe I'd do better if I had a Hatori Hanzo blade...
I give up on myself way too easily. When I read stories of bloody-knuckled persistence in the face of all rejection and adversity, I manage to feel like a woefully inadequate human being, because I when it comes to trying. I mean REALLY REALLY trying, I suck. When a hard enough punch is thrown, I remain on the mat, even when I know I have enough in me to get back up and keep fighting. I think it's because by that point, I just don't want to get knocked back down again. It hurts too much, and I figure that since so many people have already dealt me defeating blows, what's to say the rest of the people won't either?

Then I read stories like the one about Kathryn Stockett, author of bestselling novel The Help, and how she'd submitted her manuscript 60 times and had it rejected each and every time (some of those rejections, in fact, were pretty damn mean), until the 61st. After that, her life changed dramatically. It's times like this when I realize how much of a wimp I truly am. I haven't submitted anything 60 times.

In fact, if you total the number of submissions I've made for the two novels I've submitted to the market thus far, the total is probably still only half that. I stopped submitting after the tenth or twelfth rejection on either book, and really, that's just ridiculous. Shameful, even. Instead of enduring more possible rejection, I've moved on to the next project, treated the stuff I've "given up on" as ebook material.

In fact, I'm pretty sure a lot of the ardent defenses I make about self-publishing stem from the hurt of my rejections, and my desire to seek shelter from the barbs of ruthless competition. And although I am fully in agreement about a lot of the arguments made in favor of independent e-publishing vs print, and how I don't think the traditional market does many authors any favors, there is no denying that I'm engaging in the use of defense mechanisms. That I've considered the route of self-publishing due to my sometimes crippling fear of rejection. At least, if I sell poorly on Amazon or Smashwords, I can simply say it's because it's harder for an indie author to stand out in the crowd. It's certainly not because of my writing. Not because of my ideas.

It's comforting to think that way, even if in reality what I'm doing is selling myself short. Taking the easy road.

I've decided that it's time to start setting higher thresholds of professional pain for myself. I need to work harder. Oh, I'll keep e-publishing. In fact, I fully stand behind the quality of what I have to offer on the marketplace, and I'm very proud of that work. But I need to be more dogged in my attempts to work the other half of the market. The one where legends are still born, despite the sad stories we hear daily about the publishing market.

I need to get bloody, and then, when I'm sure I can't take it anymore, I need to go even further. My heart has not given up the idea of a book deal. I need to fucking stop acting like it and show what I'm really made of, because I've treated my sensibilities far too lightly.

I have not yet begun to fight. But that ends now. Where's my sword?

1 comment:

  1. You GO, Allie!! I remember being struck by the persistence of Sylvia Plath--one of my all time favorite writers/poets. She was determined to get either a short story or poem into "The New Yorker". Her husband, Ted Hughes, got his poems accepted there but hers just kept coming back to her. She set up a bulletin board and posted all her rejection letters. I think they filled a wall.She used it as a means to be motivated to do as you are--FIGHT BACK. I swear, the best writers do get tons of rejections. It's persistence and as you noted, picking up your literary sword and forging your rightful place. I know you can do it. My money's on you, kid;)

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