Rule #17

I’ve been depressed this week.

Recently, several rejection-slips landed in my inbox, each for different stories of mine.

All of ’em deserved to be rejected. Once I read the editors’ feedback, it was very clear they all lacked a good story.

I’ve moped around ever since.

My big goal this month was to finish a novelette I had started earlier this summer. It is a sci-fi story set in the near future. The concept of this tale fits well with today’s WikileaksΒ misadventures and all the shenanigans of our beloved National Security Agency. Mind you, the ideas are not new and I developed them over the past two years. Governments have long been treading on our collective rights. That’s nothing new. But I had really thought it was a good story and that I’d have something, not only well written, but popular, too.

But those rejection-slips burst my shiny, delusional bubble.

Soon after, I asked myself (not the first time), “Why am I doing this?”

I concluded I should just quit this whole writing hobby. It is just not for me. I’ll never get it. There are infinitely better writers out there (that I love!) and I should just be happy enjoying their stories. My own can fester within me.

Ug, but I have this anthology to finish (almost there!) and I did say I would get through Emma Coats’ 22 Pixar’s Storytelling Rules. Bah! As if reviewing those rules are ever gonna improve my writing. (sigh)

Ah, well, I said I would do it. Let’s see what’s next…

No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

The irony (oh, sweet, bitter irony) is that I’ve rejected several works this summer and (more or less) passed on this same advice to the unlucky authors. If only I could heed it as well as I dish it out. πŸ˜‰

Until next time, dear readers, no matter how big the rejection pile gets – keep writing. If it is just not right at the moment, you’llΒ improve the tale in the future or it could become the seed for a whole new story-world.

  • Visit this page for all my posts on Emma Coats’ Pixar’s 22 Storytelling Rules

25 thoughts on “Rule #17

  1. I’m sorry to hear about the rejections, Nila. On the plus side, the fact that you’ve gotten feedback from the editors seems to be a good thing. Most people just get the form rejections. I know you’re a good writer though. You just need to hit the right story at the right time and I’m positive you have plenty of material within you to get there.

    Also, these rules you’re posting, they WILL improve your writing. I’m sure they already are and you’re just not realizing it. We don’t know what we don’t know and we’re always going to fall short in some areas. But thankfully we have editors to help point out our blind spots so we can fix them. πŸ™‚

    1. Oh, thank you, Phillip. It is much appreciated and you are right. Editors are there to help. I know I try my best to do just that when critiquing.

      Oh, and doubly right about going through these points. When I read the 17th rule, I had to laugh considering my depressing thoughts. Just because I wrote a few crap pieces, nothing is wasted. They are stepping stones to better stories. I will get better. πŸ™‚

  2. Until next time, dear readers, no matter how big the rejection pile gets – keep writing.

    Do you know how thick Stephen King’s rejection pile for Carrie was before he finally got somebody to accept it? It was far thicker than the novel itself.

    You are taking positives. Sure, we all mope when we get rejected or our work turns out not to be as awesome for others as we believe it to be but nobody ever improved as a writer being told how fabulous they are.

    Keep going!

  3. I doubt that the issues that caused the rejections had anything to do with your ability. The rejections were not form letters; they were explanations of what didn’t work for those editors. Wish I’d progressed as far as getting thoughtful replies.

  4. I’ve had aspirations of writing fiction many times, but have never completed a single one that I started. Even if your work is currently being rejected, you’ve still accomplished something most people never do! And it will pay off for you if you keep it up.

    Good luck!

    1. Thank you, Nate. As you said, I just have to keep it up. One of these days, I’ll be the next Philip Pullman!

      (By the way, I noticed that info-graphic you posted earlier this week – interesting to see how the Jesus-narrative ‘evolved’ over time.)

      1. Yeah, that was a really cool find! Glad I came across it. If you have time, I recommend reading that guy’s blog — he has a great writing style that I think you’d appreciate.

  5. Yeah, but the nagging idea will still be whispering quietly in the hollows of your mind, waiting to fire your imagination again. Amazing journeys are paved with setbacks.

    1. Hey Robert! Nice to hear from you. πŸ™‚

      You are very very right. One never knows where one’s journey will go, and it is not like I won’t be right back at it soon enough once the whispers turn into shouts.

      I have to keep reminding myself exactly why I’m down and put things in perspective – it is not like I’m on the front lines of some war or in a bombed-out portion of Syria! I’m such a whiner. πŸ™„

      1. Hey fighting to be yourself against the odds of a world that seems to want to knock you down is a form of courage too. The setbacks, while not life threatening can be disheartening. Just keep plugging away.

  6. I think it’s only fair to allow yourself some moping time after a few rejections πŸ™‚ Stick with it! I’ve gone through several periods with less justification πŸ˜›

    On rule #17, it’s tough to move on and at the time you do, it’s hard not to feel like you are abandoning something but you might some day come back to the whole project and even if you don’t, it’s hard not to have learned something from it and have some bits and pieces of use.

    1. I think that’s the case. We are so often told to keep at it for so long – revise revise revise, submit submit submit – it is hard to know when to quit and just realize the story ain’t working.

      1. It’s really hard the first few manuscripts but after a bit of experience, it can help to set a timeframe: I’m going to work on this for X months and if it isn’t doing well by then, I’ll move on.
        But it is certainly hard to have that perspective on the first project or two. I’ve come across a couple blogs where an author is proudly revising away after 5 years on a single project. There are success stories on that path so I’m reluctant to say anything but the odds are not with them.

      2. Yeah, it was a hard decision for me, but when I decided to bag my first novel (after 3-4 years), I think it was for the best. πŸ™‚

  7. We must have got caught up in the same rejection party that the editors were throwing – I got three rejections in 24 hours last week. This is also a timely post because I just decided that the reason agents and all seem to keep losing interest in this one novel of mine around 50,000 words is that it lacks one of those, what do you call them, “plots” – so I’m going to chuck the whole thing and start it over. So you better be right about that rule 17.

    1. Yes! That’s what I need. Some good, practical advice. Everything always seems better after a cup of tea.

      I’m having Jasmine Green Tea. πŸ™‚

  8. I remember reading something by Ray Bradbury about his early days as a writer, and how most of his early stories were rejected, and he said that was fine, they deserved to be because most of them weren’t very good. We don’t do our best work right out of the gate, but you will get better as you keep trying. That’s why it’s a good idea to set a story aside for awhile after you finish it (like for a month) and then come back to it with fresh eyes later. You’ll see stuff like awkward phrasing, rhythm, etc., you missed when you were too close to it. Be proud of those rejections, they show you’re sending stuff out and growing as a writer!

    1. Right! Now, if only some of that stuff I send out would get accepted… πŸ˜€

      I know, keep writing. And I am! I’m gonna finish my novella this month.

      Thanks for stopping by and widening my perspective.

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