Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Keeping the faith. Or, not.

As writers, we all have to deal with editorial rejection.  That's what you sign on for.  It can hurt, of course.  Sometimes, you can use the criticism you receive from a rejection to improve your work, or if you're extremely lucky, your style as a writer.

Sometimes, you can't.  And, those are the rejections that can make you question yourself as a writer.  Even after many acceptances and publications, you can encounter a rejection that makes you question whether you have the ability you thought you did.

You can labor at developing a character, pour your heart and soul into that character, feel that character's pain, sweat blood at trying to make yourself and your audience feel what that character feels, see the world through his eyes, and then be told by an editor that the characters in that story are more stereotype than flesh and blood.

That's not easy to recover from.  It's one thing to be told you don't know anything about the technical aspects of a topic you're writing about.  That can be dealt with through more extensive research, or simply by avoiding the topic.  But, how do you react when someone calls the work you labored and struggled over "pulpy and stylized?"  You can try to improve as a writer, but there are some insights and abilities that can't be learned.  If you doubt you have those basic abilities, what good are you as a writer?

We write because we have to.  At least, I do.  All you can do is go on.  I know I'm not trying to be "stylized."  It might just happen.  Sometimes, you re-discover the wheel.  I suppose all you can do is stay true to yourself and always ask  yourself if you're making a genuine attempt to breathe life into a character - even if it's a blind stab in the dark - or, if you're unconsciously reacting to something you've heard or assumed.  Something superficial and empty.

Mainly, the question is whether you can stay true to the leap of faith you took when you first took up the pen.  As I said, you have no choice.  You have to set sail.  But, the scary part is not really knowing if you're following a true course, or just kidding yourself and steering into the abyss.  Oh, the joys of writing.

On to the next editor...