There are a lot of great writing reference books that I have my eye on at the moment, but if you've been in my bedroom ever, you know why I haven't been buying them. (If you haven't been in it, let me paint you a picture. Right now, I am sitting at my desk, which spans the top right hand corner of the room, diagonally opposite the door. Directly to my right is a queue of books between some owl bookends which are theoretically my next reads. On top of those are some recent acquisitions. Above the desk is a set of floating shelves that has TWO ROWS of books on each shelf, and behind me I have two Ikea Billy bookshelves which are in much the same state. So yeah, I really do have a major case of tsundoku.)
* The Novel Cure (Text Publishing)- which is basically an almanac telling you what book to read to give you perspective on whatever ails you. Now that's my kind of medicine.
* Why We Write- A collection of essays on the art of writing and the motivation behind it by some of America's best writers.
I was flicking through Why We Write today and I happened to come across a segment in one of the essays titled Rejection is Sexy. And I thought to myself, hang on a moment here... I've come to know a lot about rejection in the last year and I don't really think SEXY is the word that springs to mind when I reminisce about it. The writer (and this is awful but I didn't know who the person was when I did know their name, and now I can't remember it, so I'm sorry if they're reading this which I really doubt they are), went on to talk about the idea of rising to the challenge. If you're not in it, you definitely don't win it sort of thing. And about how if you're getting these rejections, you're still playing the game. This means you can go along to writers' groups and talk about your rejection nightmares. He cited a particularly nasty response, and how he loved being able to pull that one out while sharing war stories, and in a matter of fact sort of way just saying "How do you like them apples."
That's a really great attitude to have, and if you can have it, that's awesome, but you have to keep in mind that this guy is in the book because he is one of America's top novelists. I'm just going to give you a moment to let that sink in.
He is one of America's top novelists.
Excuse me if I am a little sceptical about whether or not he always felt that way, considering that he's now writing from the point of view of someone who not only beat the thousands of writers in that country, but got good enough to be called one of the top literary exports.
Now, I don't always cry into my bowl of ice cream or drink myself to sleep every time I get a rejection email but it doesn't make me want to run out and skip and pick daisies either. I got one today- a no, sorry but good luck from the Carmel Bird prize- and even though I was a bit embarrassed not to have impressed Angela Meyer a bit more, I didn't instantly start hating everything about myself. I consider this a win. But I did feel a little less awesome than I had before I read that email. Earlier in the year, I read a rejection email while I was at work. That was a mistake Never read any emails from publishers or competitions at work unless you want to be the work crybaby!
So rejection is humbling, rejection is debilitating for a while, rejection makes you determined, rejection toughens your skin, and rejection makes you doubt yourself... but I don't think I will ever get as far as calling it sexy.
But they say the grass is always greener on the other side, so when I'm one of Australia's top novelists (ha!) I will let you know if that changes.