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 is...me. 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.
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?