The Art of Rejection

I have gotten the BEST rejections lately!

Nope. Not being facetious.

My latest manuscript Behind Cellar Doors was a finalist in Pitch Wars 2017 – and it was such a great experience and opportunity. I worked with writer Laura Brown to hone in on the story, making it so much better.

But I soon discovered: It just wasn’t (quite) there.

I started getting rejections. And they were REALLY GREAT rejections. The feedback I was getting from agents was amazing—I was so grateful they took the time to send really insightful information. So, though I was disappointed that I didn’t get a wow-I-can’t-wait-to-sign-you message, their feedback pinpointed exactly what was missing in the MS.

So, I could, like, FIX IT! 

Here are some of my favorite lines that helped push me to the next revision:

“I love this premise, and you really made your setting come alive for the reader. I almost felt like I was working in a vineyard myself. I thought Taylor was well-drawn as your MC, and I really got a sense of her motivation and personality. I also felt like the novel had a strong and original voice which felt consistent throughout. For me, I just didn’t feel enough tension throughout the novel, especially to build up to what is a pretty dark twist at the end.”

“…I see this as a strength to your writing and to her character. Very well done! Unfortunately, I was very much on the fence with this project. A part of me wasn’t as enamored with the romance as I’d hoped, but most of all I believe it was the pacing that kept me at a distance and prevented me from jumping up and down. You’re a great writer with an excellent story here, so I have no doubt you’ll find the perfect agent match soon to champion the project.”

“You’ve got a great voice here, and I really liked the concept, but in the end, I just didn’t fall enough in love to be able to offer representation. But of course, these things are a matter of personal taste, and another agent might feel differently. “

The best news is: one of my Pitch Wars responses was a Revise & Resubmit. And that agent sent fantastic feedback, too, which I was able to combine with the feedback above to get through a kick-ass revision of the story. (Thank you again to the amazing, talented and funny-as-hell Katie Golding, for your A-MAZ-ING edit notes.) The R&R is off in the mail, and I also got to send the new-and-improved version to two other agents who asked for fulls while I was revising.

It’s all a circle, right? Rejection feeds the process.

I’m so thankful for the insight these agents sent. It’s like they took a spotlight and focused it exactly on the parts I needed to improve.

For those of you out there dealing with rejections, make them a part of your process. When a professional takes the time to send valuable insight, think of it as a gift.

Arrgghhh … Writer’s Block

I’M STUCK. I’ve had my cursor at the end of Chapter 17 for four weeks. FOUR FREAKING WEEKS! I’m not sure why I can’t get my characters to move on to the next scene.

Maybe it’s because my main characters are about to have sex and my daughters are reading this story as it develops. Maybe. (I can hear my CP Deborah shouting through etherspace: GET TO THE SEX, ALREADY.)

Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years.

In an effort to MOVE ON ALREADY … I am blogging about my inertia in the hopes that it will a) get my fingers moving and b) share some of the best advice I find with others who might also be stuck in this frustrating state of “word log-jam”.

big-magicI immediately turn to my cosmic BFF and constant source of inspiration Elizabeth Gilbert and her wonderful latest publication Big Magic. If you haven’t read Big Magic, I highly recommend it.

Gilbert dedicates an entire section of the book to the role of persistence in creativity, and personally considers plain, old fashioned persistence to be an enormous part of her writing life. She writes:

“For my own part, I decided early on to focus on my devotion to the work above all. That would be how I measured my worth.  I knew that conventional success would depend upon three factors—talent, luck, and discipline—and I knew that two of those three things would never be under my control. Genetic randomness had already determined how much talent I’d been allotted, and destiny’s randomness would account for my share of luck. The only piece I had any control over was my discipline. Recognizing that, it seemed like the best plan would be to work my ass off. That was the only card I had to play, so I played it hard.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

However, this might be my favorite paragraph in the book: a good reminder to tune out the constant critics in our lives and just write:

“Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

writers-digest-logo

Chuck Sambuchino (on WritersDigest.com) talks through his top ways to get through writer’s block. #1 being:

1.) Step away from whatever you’re writing and do anything that’s creative. Paint pictures, write poetry, design images in Photoshop, make a scrapbook or collage, or if you’re masculine, build something in the garage. Work on another creative project for a few hours or days and then go back to writing. When I’m stuck, I paint paintings or work on my website or blog. Jumping to other projects really activates my creativity. The key is to keep exercising the creative part of your brain and eventually you’ll tap back into the flow of writing.
See all 7 of Chuck’s ways to overcome writer’s block here.

The-new-yorker-logo

This article by Maria Konnikova in The New Yorker covers the origin of the term “Writer’s Block” and suggests that blocked writers need creative and/or emotional therapy. (I challenge you to show how me a writer who doesn’t need creative and/or emotional therapy!)

“Writer’s block has probably existed since the invention of writing, but the term itself was first introduced into the academic literature in the nineteen-forties, by a psychiatrist named Edmund Bergler.”
Read the full article here.

Do you have any tips or tactics for pushing through writer’s block? Please share!

Now … back to the WIP.

I Hate Social Media

There. I said it. The fact that I am not a huge fan (personally) of social media is really quite a bummer–since I happen to run a digital marketing business (www.vicecommunications.com) AND I have aspirations of creating a strong author platform using … social media. So shhhh! 

But just because I don’t personally LIKE it (pun intended) doesn’t mean I don’t understand it, and it certainly doesn’t mean I can’t use it as a method to establish and market myself as a writer.

Since SHIFT has not yet been published, I have decided to focus on four platforms now — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram–and save some for the future: Goodreads, Google+ and SnapChat.

facebook-96 FACEBOOK (or, as my daughters call it, social media for old people)
As I started to establish my new social media channels as an “Author,” I realized immediately that I needed to make some decisions about my personal presence on various channels. On Facebook, for example, I have had an active personal page for several years. But I’ve been choosy about who I’ve accepted friend requests from–I tend to take the term “friend” literally. If we weren’t friends in High School, or you are “friending” me because you are one of the zillion people who was friends with my husband (who maintains a staunch anti-social-media position) … well, then, why would I want to show you photos of my kids now?

To help separate my personal Facebook presence from my professional goals, I have established several “Pages” specific to my writing projects. You can find me as an author here, and I have unpublished pages established specifically for SHIFT as a standalone title, and THE SHIFT TRILOGY if all the stars align.

If SHIFT is taken on by an agent & publishing team, I will utilize my personal contacts to promote my Author Page. In the meantime, I simply “soft launched” the page and asked my core crew of supporters to LIKE it. This gives me somewhere to flow new blog posts, etc. so I have something underway if and when SHIFT is taken on.

I also have to make the decision about opening up my personal Facebook page a little more so I have more people to “market to” if and when SHIFT is published. This feels VERY strange to me, but makes sense. For now, I am not doing this by actively friending more people myself,  but I am trying to have a more open mind in accepting FRIENDS requests. Use your connections, use your connections, use your connections. (NOTE: Opening this up has already changed the tone of my personal Facebook page, and I have to think carefully about what I post–especially in this debacle of an election year).

twitter-96 TWITTER (or the bane of my existence)
Twitter was a bit of a different animal. I was never a fan of Twitter, so I decided to dedicate my existing account @kelivice to my author platform. (Man–I need a better picture!! One step at a time.) For now, I am following as many writing-related people as I can find, and participating in Twitter pitches just to get the feel of the platform. Though I find the snarkiness of Twitter to be of epic proportions, I believe the platform is a necessary evil, so I will continue to quietly grow my presence and learn from other successful authors who use the platform.

instagram-96 INSTAGRAM (or where the teenagers hang out)
I’m still figuring out Instagram on a professional level. For now, I have an account. I have linked it to my website, and I’m watching and learning from other authors and brands. Honestly, the only reason I’m paying attention to it is I have seen my 14- and 17-year-old daughters devote INSANE amounts of time to scrolling through Instagram. I don’t get it yet–but I will, because I’m writing YA and this is my target audience!

pinterest-96 PINTEREST (easy to participate in)
Pinterest is just one huge world of repinning, so it doesn’t take a huge amount of time to keep things populated here. The jury is still out as to what it will eventually bring to an author platform, but I’m willing to give it a go. For now I have just linked my personal Pinterest presence to my website, but I plan to establish and author presence specifically around writing and creativity. Hopefully I can keep my personal presence a little separate, but only time will tell.

A WORD ON SNAPCHAT (per Gary Vaynerchuck)
https://finance.yahoo.com/video/grave-mistake-neglect-snapchat-gary-212933693.html?format=embed

For YA authors, Snapchat cannot be ignored. I have an account–guess I will be figuring out how to use it to my advantage.

RESOURCES (learn, learn and learn some more)
Even though I run a digital marketing company, social media has not been my primary focus, so I am constantly reading and listening to make sure I keep up. Most recently, I read CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM by Chuck Sambuchino–a good read no matter what your current social media knowledge is. You can find the book HERE.

I’m also following the fabulous Gary Vaynerchuck on every social media channel I can find, and just signed up for his “building a personal brand” webinar series on Udemy. (Gary also has TONS of video material available on YouTube and on his Facebook page. ) His Facebook URL is https://www.facebook.com/gary – which means the dude got in ON THE GROUND FLOOR.

Any recommendations out there? I’m in learning mode so your experience is welcome!