FEELING THE PAIN

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I remember my first editor interview. I had ten minutes to wow a Supergod with my prose. I had ten minutes to convince someone I had never met that my book was better than all the rest, worthy of her time and attention. I was nervous and I had more questions than I had answers, and I remember the editor saying that if I had to ask her if my writing was any good, then maybe I wasn’t ready.

It reminds me of the auditions I watch on American Idol, the amateur singers who believe they are ready to be the next icon. Last week Paula Abdul said to a crying contestant, “I’m sorry honey, you’re just not ready.” The contestant didn’t understand. “Let me sing another song,” he begged.

I know how that feels, but I also know how frustrating it can be for the judges. Because the truth is, wanting it isn’t enough. You have to be ready. If you are a bundle of nerves, if you can’t talk straight enough to sing, if your voice quivers, if you cry when you are rejected, how can you expect anyone to take you seriously?

Whenever you put your work/art out there for other people to enjoy, you have to be ready for the criticism and rejection that will follow. Not everyone likes the same songs; not everyone reads the same books. This is something I’ve learned during my writing career, and I no longer quake in my shoes when I have an interview with an agent or an editor. Now I walk in with confidence, ready to discuss my work and the writing industry. Because I know that writing, like singing, is so competitive the chances are two to one my work will be rejected. That is the nature of this business, especially now in this economic recession.

Instead of crying and begging for another chance, I thank them for their time and for reading my manuscript. Then I go back to work perfecting my voice and defining my niche. Because one of these days, I’ll meet an editor who wants to buy my books and unlike that desperate American Idol contestant, I will be ready.

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