October 15, 2014
The Best Cure for Fear - Tracy Krauss
Fear of rejection is arguably the most common fear among writers. I've got news, folks. Get used to it.
It took me sixteen years and several works in progress to finally get up the nerve to let someone read what I'd written. By that time I had a finished novel and three more in various stages. I knew that eventually I would have to let someone take a peek - after all, my dream was to see my work published. Therein lies the irony. I wanted people to read what I had so painstakingly set to paper, but at the same time I was afraid. Writing is so personal. It's a little bit like exposing oneself in public.
I decided to take a baby step, which was still monumental considering my mental state at the time. I let my fourteen year old daughter, who was (and is) a voracious reader, be the first to read my masterpiece. Her reaction was, shall we say, polite. She 'liked' it, but she wasn't engrossed. In hindsight, I know now that the story was very expository. There was too much 'telling'. (Funny how I didn't catch that the first time around...) I went back to the computer and made some major revisions.
After a thorough overhaul, I took another giant leap and sent a submission off to the 'Writer's Edge', a service that reviews manuscripts for a small fee. If they think it has merit they will recommend it to agents and publishers on their list. (Sort of a pre-screening service.) This time I was sure I was golden. My career as an author was about to begin!
No so. That first rejection letter was devastating. I wish now that I had kept it. Instead I threw it away, discouraged and disheartened. But writers - real writers - can't stop writing.
The good news is this. I persevered. Each and every rejection was actually a gift. While most were form letters, many were not. I took to heart each and every piece of advice given to me in those rejections. A good writing class might have been an easier route, but having already started down the school of hard knocks, I carried on. Submission. Rejection. Submission. Rejection. Along the way I learned a ton about what good writing looks like, and I also got rather thick skinned. Rejection, it turns out, is the best cure for fear of rejection.
Over a six year period, I estimate I sent out between 120 and 130 submissions. I didn't receive quite as many rejections (some agents and publishers don't bother to respond at all) but the old saying that some writers could paper a wall with their rejection letters is actually true in my case. Through it all, I also got some 'requests for more' (a very thrilling response given the barrage of bad news) and eventually several contracts. It was not an easy road, I assure you.
What is the point of this story? Don't let the fear of rejection stop you from sharing your work. Take a deep breath and send that query! Read aloud at your next writers' group! Do something - anything - to force your fears into submission. The worst that anyone can say is, "That's really not that good," to which you can respond, "Thanks for the feedback. I'll do better next time."
Tracy Krauss is a multi-published, award winning, and Amazon best selling novelist and playwright. After years of rejection she feels she has earned the right to blow her own horn among friends. http://tracykrauss.com