Hello chums! My name is Jennifer, and you’re so very welcome to my blog where I will carry you through my journey as an aspiring Young Adult (YA) author on the publishing track with my own dystopian novel. Join me through my snapshots, doodles and general misshapen thoughts that were just begging to be documented! (That last bit might have been a lie….)
Rejections in the Publishing World
Confidence Seated in Talent Was Never Mutually Exclusive with Cockiness, Regardless of Age.
With each passing night a world leader faces a ream of decisions which alter and shape the world irrevocably – and often for the worse. On the other hand, I am a twenty-one year old author tied to the word ‘aspiring’ with what can often feel like a suffocating chain. This will be the case until the very day when another person’s (an agent, an editor etc.) taste redefines the personal blurb which I carry everywhere in my heart. Are these situations comparable? A world leader to my own, very personal ambitions? Many wouldn’t think so.
Yet as the leader of my own world, it is at times like these (nearing two in the morning to be exact) that the weight of the entirely self-created expectation fills my every cell with treacle-thick doubt. I can almost feel the metaphysical change in shape as my concave cells which drive my ambition in my genes bend double to cower from the fear of rejection. In my past, and perhaps in yours too, such feelings disabled me entirely until my mind was frantic, both fight and fright forgotten, and I sank in the quagmire of my own mind, but things have been different for some time now. For me, it is not maturing emotionally (thankfully those teen years are over) that has helped me develop the ability to act in spite of fear, but the realization of a new kind of knowledge;
I deserve more than to be held captive in my mind, be that in my writing career or otherwise.
There are those in the publishing industry that will never fail to tell me that as an unpublished, young woman, I am an ‘ignorant’ and that one must ‘earn’ their stripes and their right to sit at the Round Table of the Published. Twenty-one, or one-hundred and one, I will always politely disagree.
These earned stripes are emotional shortcomings documented along a rough road to publishing which authors seem to call the ‘necessary slog’. I am not so foolish as to ignore constructive criticism from those versed in a world which is far to ‘real’ for my fictionally-dependent mind. I all but revere those people, perhaps even too much. Writing is my religion, and there was a time when each literary agent was Jesus Christ incarnate to me. I believe that their words condemned, rather assisted. Whilst I am no longer blinded by desire, I can look to these people with clarity. Of course, I will alter my plots and characters, heed advice to the last detail, and beg for the input of those that matter until I have become a very real manifestation of my dreams.
The difference between the very inexperience of this blog about a journey which has scarcely just taken off and the reverence which some would say I ‘ought’ to still have for those whom have created careers with the stroke of a pen, is merely thus; I choose how I react to the harshest words, and the most unwelcome of feedback.
In my life, I have transformed from porcelain, to steel – and steel does not buckle nor does it bow at a wounded ego. Furthermore, I doubt any tradesman or woman would look at a crippled sheet of steel with promise for the future. Self-imposed disappointment after another rejection is simply yet another setback. Throughout this publishing journey, I will choose to go one step forward, and become steel reinforced with the unbreakable knowledge that I am among the unbreakable.
There is a wondrous saying that the noble House Martell in George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series live by. It is inked to my brain along with every harsh email I have or shall receive telling me that I am generic or a waste of time; ‘unbowed, unbent, unbroken.’ (Unrelated but also entirely related, is that one of George’s own stories was rejected forty-two times by forty-two different magazines).
I am writing for a genre (dystopian fiction: in short, the genre ‘The Hunger Games’ rose from) which publishing houses are rejecting for fear of coming up short on another story’s past success. I have been advised twice now – once only mere moments ago, to consider abandoning the genre entirely and that time would serve to help me lose the ‘supposed’ passion I feel for my characters. They are fictional after all, right?
I feel no bitterness towards the past success of others in dystopian fiction, or these advice-givers whom I made the choice to seek out. In truth, their advice is more than likely accurate. With time, I would forget the characters that bowed to my will as I am their master of steel. Words move like water through cupped palms in the face of all that life throws at us daily. To live is to forget.
I am merely at the beginning of a journey that could take my death to become successful for all I know, like so many others. Time is never of the essence when you are an author unclaimed by an agent or editor – you have no used-by date. That may be a depressing or ugly truth to some, as the rejection letters will likely pile into my email box in their droves, but I can guarantee you that I am smiling with serenity when I say this;
I am unbreakable, and will not bow to my own doubts and ego-driven expectations, as this so-called ‘harsh criticism’ is only so dependent on the eyes willing to seek it out.
I have enough pride to dance to my own tune, whilst making the correct moves to step across the board-game track towards publication. Pride is entirely separate to cockiness, as I will relish every opportunity to become a human sponge to those great and impressive authors, agents, publishers, and editors that I will continue to actively seek advice from. Knowledge is a currency where your savings account is a lifeline that can never reach a deficit.
The simple truth or moral, if you will, of this piece is thus; reacting without choice and full of blinkered emotion will only give me the repeated experience of dissatisfaction at another’s hands and the blame game will then play on loop. Rather, I will create a path of ease for myself in life – and in publication – by remaining free from my own self-doubts.
Your own worst enemy, or your own best ally? The choice will always be yours and mine.
Acknowledgement of your talent is not smugness. Success is in no way less beautiful if it comes easier than you were led to believe was possible. Knowing with pride that you have a talent that is an inaugural part of you, is not haughty. You do not have to shamefacedly remind people that you worked tirelessly for such opportunities, as I have done only too recently. You are under no obligation to follow the rule book of anyone else. But becoming ignorant another’s entirely is what will lead to your own creative isolation, and ultimately, I believe, no one would publish or collaborate with someone who believes themselves to be above the word of another.
To play the superiority game, you need two players, and no one should have to feel inferior by the strength of your bitterness.
It is odd as I finish writing this, I feel rather like Dorothy in Oz as I walk through this new industry with wide eyes – and yet, a crucial difference that may just save me, I am content that wherever the path leads, I will find all that I desire.
After all, I lay those very yellow bricks myself.
Indeed, on Tuesday I am meeting an editor in person to discuss my novel draft, and it was a dream I had of her in-eloquently telling me the book was a load of rubbish, throwing it at my head and giving me the first concussion of my life that inspired to write this piece.I’d imagine that it will go at least marginally better than that…
Wish me luck!
REMEMBER: The reason for the birth of this blog – #BornWithPride – the art of deserving without doing harm to another, and the overhauling of societal teachings – #BornWithGuilt doesn’t sound half as good, does it?
All Rights Reserved – Jennifer Poyntz