Monday, May 27, 2013

Surviving "F"ailure

I'm kicking off a new cycle this week, "Surviving 'F'ailure." And well, I've had a lot of experience with both failing and surviving as a writer. Over the years, I've tried a lot of things that don't work. But recently, I've stumbled across a few things that help keep me going in the face of rejection.

1. Hope

I didn't use to hope. In the past, the second I hit "send" on a submission, I would immediately tell myself that the story wasn't any good, anyway. I'm sure nobody will like it, and I may as well start expecting the rejections now because that's all I'm ever going to get.

If I expected the worst, I thought I could somehow protect myself from getting hurt. Well, you know what? When the rejections came, it still hurt. Shooting myself down before anybody else didn't do a thing except make me feel badly about myself.

Last year, I had a change of heart. I was PROUD of my book, I'd worked hard on it, and I felt like I would be short-changing myself and my story if I didn't allow myself to hope.

So now I indulge in crazy dreams -- seven-figure deals and international book tours and movie premieres. I made outlandish predictions to my friends: we would sell our books to the same editor at the same house on the same day. The rejections still come, sure. And they still hurt. But in the meantime, I'm having fun. And that's the whole point. If we can't have fun in the process, why do it at all?

2. "This is an odd story."

Recently, I had a contest judge say to me, "This is an odd story." Um...thanks? I guess? This statement is a version of the "This is interesting"  comment where you can't tell if it's a compliment or an insult. Or a little of both.

After turning the words over in my head, I decided to take them as a compliment. First, I'll never know what the judge meant, so I might as well interpret it positively. But more importantly, in such a saturated marketplace, where manuscripts are being rejected for "not standing out," I think it is good to be different. It's an advantage to be -- dare I say it? -- odd.

So these days, when the fear of failure sets in, I tell myself that I am the only one who can write this manuscript. Out of all the talented, hard-working, multi-published, prize-winning authors in this world, the only person who can tell this story the way it should be told Because it is an odd story. Because it is unique to my vision. Because these characters live in my heart.

So if I believe that this story needs to be told, and I'm the only one to tell it... well, failure is simply not an option.

3. Friends

The single most important thing that makes failure easier to bear? Friends.

Friends who want your success (almost) as much as they want their own.
Friends who will toast mojitos with you over good news -- or send cyber chockies over bad news.
Friends whom you can text and email every single day to report your word count -- or lack thereof.
Friends who make you feel like a winner, even when it seems the rest of the world thinks you're a failure.

I know friends like these don't come along every day, and I feel blessed to have mine. (Thank you, Group of Awesome!)

So those are some of the techniques I use to survive failure. Tell me. What are some of yours?



Vanessa Barneveld said...

I'm giving this post an "F" for "fabulous," Pintip! We all experience some form of failure in our careers, but it's how you deal with it that matters. Loved what you said about hoping for the best instead of expecting rejection.

I'm so lucky to have supportive friends who listen to me whine about rejections and then promptly tell me to get back to work because I'm destined for better things. An endless supply of chockies helps, too.

x Vanessa, proud Group of Awesome member. ;)

Kimberly said...

I think this post will resonate with people who have ever tried to put their words and ideas and their very heart down on the blank page/screen. I've heard multi-published authors who still fear rejections and bad reviews and nasty critiques. I'm not sure that will go away even with a publishing contract. We just have to learn to take something away from it and then turn our backs on the naysayers.
Friends do make the difference! Supportive groups and writing communities can really help.
Um...I don't think there's anything wrong with expecting a seven-figure deal and a world-world tour. Can't wait to start our joint tour together! First stop? Australia! So we can grab Vanessa. The Group of Awesome tour is gonna rock! :-)
I know what your word count goal is for today, so get crackin'!

Melissa Landers said...

Great post, Pintip! I can relate, especially to the "this is odd" feedback. Years ago when I wrote Alienated, I got those same kinds of comments when I told people the book was about a human falling for her alien exchange student. When I went on subs, oodles of editors said they either didn't like alien stories or didn't think "those kinds of books" would sell.

Now look. Alien stories are creeping up everywhere: in books, movies, and on TV. Sci-fi is about to explode and I'm so psyched to be a part of it.

I'm proud of my "odd" story, and I'm glad you're proud of yours, too!

Lorie Langdon said...

Excellent post, Pintip!
I totally agree that being afraid to hope doesn't make the rejection hurt any less. I choose to believe great things are going to happen! Yep, I'm a dreamer, always have been. (It's actually worked out pretty well for me so far. ;) I've never really seen the point in pouring your heart and soul into something and sending it out with the expectation that no one is going to like it. I say, Go all in! Believe that what you do is valuable. :D
You are on the right path, my friend. Let every submission you send out be a reason to celebrate! And one day soon I'll be lifting a Mojito in honor of your multi-book/movie deal! =)

CareyCorp said...

Great post Pintip!

PJ Sharon said...

I love your lemons to lemonade approach! Failure is simply taking one step closer to success in my book. Some of the most valuable lessons I've learned in life have been found from falling on my face and picking myself back up. It's in the "picking ourselves back up" that we grow stronger. Rejection is one more no closer to a yes, right?

Romily Bernard said...

Awww,Pintip, what a great post! I feel you on the rejection. Gotta love those contest judges. One told me to scrap FIND ME. I think she gave me straight ones....anyway, I think "odd story" is actually a good thing. It stands out. It stuck with her. That's a good thing. Even if she's trying to make you feel bad about it.

I believe in you!! I have a good feeling about your coming submission process!!

Natalie D Richards said...

Man. Yeah. I think we've all been there and I just love this post and your willingness to step forward with optimism and honesty. Fingers crossed. I think "odd" is a wonderful thing!

Steph Winkelhake said...

Hope. It's so easy to lose at times. I love your attitude, and yes, FUN. We wouldn't spend hours and hours each day writing if we weren't having fun.