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Sunday, February 14, 2010
Chocolate-Covered Rejection by Robin Burcell
Robin Burcell, an FBI-trained forensic artist, has worked as a police officer, detective and hostage negotiator. The Bone Chamber is her latest international thriller about an FBI forensic artist. Face of a Killer received a starred review from Library Journal. She is the author of four previous novels. Visit her website at: www.robinburcell.com/
A few months ago, Robin Burcell was a guest on Meanderings and Muses with a tongue- in-cheek blog post about trying to make her book video trailer (which can be seen here) go viral. THE BONE CHAMBER was released in paperback this January. With her book tour over, it’s time for her to submit a new proposal to her editor for the next thriller in her FBI forensic art series. But with that submission comes the very real possibility that her editor might reject it. And then what?
Writing is such a solitary profession, it helps to know that other writers experience similar feelings. This is Robin’s updated take on the subject of rejection, something she penned back when she first started writing, and something that she believes still holds true today.
Chocolate-Covered Rejection by Robin Burcell
We writers live with constant stress. Mailing off manuscripts is a trial in itself. So is the anticipation of checking the answering machine each day, hoping that The Call is waiting for you when you get home. You count the blinking lights indicating the number of messages. How many messages were you expecting? Is The Call among them? It’s enough to raise your blood pressure.
Worse yet is the dread of checking the mailbox. You pray fervently that you won’t find your manuscript contained within, because if you do, you have just entered the realm that all writers fear: The dreaded “R” word. Rejection.
How do we live with it? How do we plod on, forcing ourselves back to the keyboard after yet another priority package received from the postman sends us into a tailspin of depression?
I don’t have a clear cut answer. I only know from my own experience the intense wave of self-doubts about my writing ability after taking my mail key, opening the box and seeing that red, white and blue envelope that I so carefully labeled with my return address. (Or these days, checking my e-mail and finding the one from my agent that details her conversation with my editor about my latest proposal.) Of course, I pretend to myself it is no big deal, and after reading the dreaded news, I think rather flippantly, “Oh well.” But then I sit in a daze for several minutes, with no desire to write anything ever again.
I know I need help and so call a fellow writer, test the news out on her. She, of course, assures me that no, I am not a failure, and yes, I will come out of my rejection-induced slump. She suggests eating chocolate. Not only will I feel better, but within a day or two, I’ll be back at my keyboard.
A day or two? If I wait that long, the melancholy that threatens to engulf me will win. I don’t feel like writing. I want to cry. But being a professional, I contemplate her suggestion. I go to the refrigerator, find a forgotten chocolate bar of my daughter’s, take it back to my computer. I open the candy and promptly devour it, waiting for the miraculous cure. At first, nothing happens, and I blame it on the cheap quality of the chocolate. But then, while I sit patiently before my computer, staring at my unfinished chapter—all the while wondering if perhaps I ought not to run to the store and get some seriously expensive chocolate—a funny thing happens.
I discover a small typo.
I correct it and soon find another. It glares out, asks to be fixed. Before I know it, I find myself typing whole words into real sentences. Soon there is an entire paragraph and by the end of the evening, I finish the chapter. I survive! I want to shout to everyone that it isn’t the end of the world after all.
I can still write!
So what’s the moral of my story? One should handle a rejection letter (or e-mail) the same as any other obstacle. You have to get right back into that saddle. Get to that keyboard and write, write, write. (And if it is not writing that you are pursuing, get back into the saddle and try, try again no matter what the goal.) But just in case, keep a supply of chocolate on hand. I plan on storing mine in the freezer for that psychological edge, since I hope never to have to pull it out again. But when I need it, its only a thaw away.
So how do you handle rejection? Whether it is a story submission or a proposal for a deal at work. What is your comfort technique to get past the R word?