That short story you sent to a children’s magazine? Sorry, it’s not right for our current needs. The writing contest you entered? Thank you for trying, but you were not chosen. The manuscript you’ve sent out over and over and over? Too long, too short, needs more of a story arc, character is not relatable enough, too many illustrators notes, needs more illustrators notes, etc, etc. On the journey of writing for children, there are going to be way more rejections than acceptances. They say you must have a thick skin to survive. It’s true.
J.K. Rowling was rejected a dozen times before Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (now Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) was accepted. Gone with the Wind got 38 rejections before being published. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight? 14 consecutive rejections. And the Newbery winning book, A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 26 times before someone said yes.
What if all these authors gave up after a few rejections? The world would never know them. Their work would probably still be sitting in some drawer in their house or in a file on their computer. It’s a good thing they had a tough skin and kept going. On this path littered with inevitable rejections, we should celebrate our successes when they do come. And if you keep trudging away and don’t give up in the frightening face of rejection, you are bound to find some successes along the way.
Keep knocking on those doors, keep pounding the pavement…wait, that sounds pretty old school, doesn’t it? How about keep entering contests, keep submitting to agents and publishers, keep reading and most of all KEEP WRITING. And when one of those figurative doors opens for you? Bask in the glow! Be proud! Celebrate your success! Regardless of how big or small the accomplishment is, you should be busting out in a celebratory happy dance, a la Snoopy.
And when you’re done dancing, you should share your success. It feels a little more real when you do. Isn’t it nice to hear people say, “Way to go!”? It builds you up and keeps you motivated.
So in taking my own advice, I would like to share one of my recent successes. I sent in a short poem to be considered for The SCBWI Bulletin, the bi-monthly magazine put-out by the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators. I got an e-mail back from the president, Stephen Mooser, saying he hopes to use it in a future issue and that he’s sending me a check. A check? As in, you’re going to pay me for my writing? Woohoo!
Fast forward a few weeks and in the mail today was a check for $50 and a handwritten thank-you from Mr. Mooser himself! You better believe I’m framing that thing! (Ahem, the letter, not the check. That check is going in the bank!)
Tomorrow I will keep on keeping on with this writing thing, but today I’m going to celebrate my success. Cue the happy dance Snoopy!