Friday, December 24, 2010

Two sides of the same coin: Rejection & Adoration


"I don't like it," she said.
I just looked at her. My heart sank. 
"It does nothing for me," she continued.
"Ok," I uttered.
"I forced myself to read past the first page."
What was that sensation? Oh, yes. It was the knife that my wife was churning in my sensitive heart. She held chapter 1 of a new concept that I was playing with like she would be insulted to use to line our trashcan. 
"I don't even think you like it," she said. "You're writing it because you think it's time to write. This is NOT the idea that deserves to be the followup to Aces.

There it was. 

When I wrote those 2,500 words I was writing -- the mechanics were there: my fingers moved on the keyboard, and words were displayed in my Scrivener app. 

But my heart was not in it. Unlike Aces, this one did not have heat or passion. 

Aces is in the query process. I've started to contact agents to query their interest. Everyone told me the same thing: when you start to query, that's the time to start your next novel. So I followed instructions. 

But, that's what I was doing -- following instructions. The magic of writing is only magic when you, the writer, is also transported to that world.

So I got a bit depressed. Got a cup of coffee (soy latte with illy coffee -- if you were wondering) and returned to my office. 

Noise canceling headphones? Check
Emotionally wrenching music? Check
Note book? Check
Idea? um, no check


I wrote random ideas, drew things, and my mind wondered to the Lunar Eclipse and Winter Solstice. 

In about one hour, if the clouds parted, the moon would look red, ominous, and awesome. Click! An idea came. Very fast and furious.

I wrote eight pages of notes in my journal. Before I knew it I was on the computer writing the opening scene. At 1 AM I was done. I missed the eclipse. Thankfully, according to my neighbor I didn't miss anything. The only eclipse I would have seen was provided by the clouds.

When she woke in the morning, I followed her around like a lost puppy. She knew what I wanted. 
She turned to me and smiled. "Make me a cup of coffee and I'll read it," she declared. 
Coffee in hand she read it. I watched her facial reactions wanting to see her laugh at the funny lines. Nothing! She instead had that serious face on. She's a high school teacher (a damned good one!) so she can't help looking serious. 
She was on the last page. She was done. She turned the last page and turned to me. A smile cracked her face.
"I like it. A lot. I want to read the rest of it."
I smiled. Probably looked goofy and silly. But I didn't care. I got her adoration.
"Get started. This is it!"

And of all things, I'm writing a YA novel. I've read so many lately that it was only a matter of time. 

My wife's done this to me in the past. I had written my Great American Novel some time ago. After I was done, I let her read chapter 1. She didn't care for it. She said "So what?"

Those words led me to work on the craft, learn, study, read, and do all I can to impress her -- my first reader. Fast forward one year and Aces went to her -- from rejection came adoration. I've already written her reaction in previous posts.

It is hard to get rejected. But it is necessary, absolutely critical, to take the rejection and improve from there. For anyone that has learned to play an instrument, the concept of rejection is built into the system. Your instrument of choice -- guitar, piano, etc. -- will immediately tell you when you strike the wrong note. Yes, that is rejection. It's a form of direct communication -- "not that note, try again." We don't take it personally. We make adjustments and move on. 

If you have trusted people around you, they should be that first filter. Later, it will be your agent. The agent will want changes, that's a good thing. It means that a professional reader is telling you when you've hit the wrong notes. Then the editor will do the same. It's all part of what it takes to create beautiful music with words.

Rejection has taken on a very negative connotation in our society. Do you have a good story where rejection led to something extraordinary. Share it! It's cathartic to share!

I am convinced that it is the blood line to creation. 

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