Dealing with Feedback and Rejection
So there are, The thing about joining the community, or getting your writing out in the world, is there are perils and opportunities, with feed back and rejection. You know, it's kinda what I was saying earlier, with my writing teacher. Harper Lee, She said, I would advice anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent, he would be wise to develop a thick hide. It's really important to get feedback. Right? Cause stories are really hard to figure out. You've been so immersed in them, after you write your novel, your story, it's hard to figure out what is working, and what is not working. Cause you're so close to the material, it's hard to get that objective lens on things. So, I think it's really important to think about, what type of feedback you want, and who you want it from. And, every writers different, ya know? Sometimes I think our writing world's so feedback heavy, like, you need feedback, right from the first draft. I actually don't get feedback until ...
I've written, until I feel really super solid about the story. So, that could be like the third or fourth draft. Now on the other hand, I know writers who get feedback as the stories printing out of the printer. Ya know? They can't wait. It's galvanizing, and it's motivating. I'll just advise, unless you have really special friends and family members, don't go to them for feedback, it's better to go to a writer's group. They might not exactly understand where you're coming from, and they might say something that's harmful. Or, they might just love it. Just say I love it, because you're my son (chuckles) Ya know? And, it's helpful to provide a framework for feedback. When I was getting my M F A, So often... I'd come home with, ya know, we'd get feedback in the workshop, and people would right things in the margin, and I'd get all these comments, I want more, more background, I want to understand this character more, I want more here. And so, I'd leave, ya know, I'd have a 10 page story with I want more, I want more, I want more. I didn't know what to do with that. So, when I give my stuff out for feedback, I ask for specific questions, so it's very focused on specific matters, and I think that helps. And every great author gets rejection, rejection's built into it. So, I think it's really important to accept that, and know that, you're part of this grand tradition of rejection. Madeleine L'Engle received 26 rejections, for "A Wrinkle in Time." Beatrix Potter had so much trouble publishing "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," she had to self-publish it. And I love this quote, an editor gave to Richard Bach, who wrote "Jonathan Livingston Seagull." Nobody will want to read a book about a seagull. Turns out, millions of people did. So, often times, that feedback you get, it's wrong. That's the thing you gotta realize, that there's always somebody else to show your material to, who might understand it. In fact, J.K. Rowling's novels were all rejected, numerous times. And her inquiring editor didn't want to buy it either. He gave it to his daughter to read, and she loved it so much. I think she was 12, perfect age, 12 year old girl, and that's why he bought it. So, find that 12 year old girl for your story. (audience laughs) Yeah. But, this is where it all leads. Sylvia Path, I think she had the greatest thought, take on this, I love my rejections slips. They show me I try. And what I love about this is, that she's seeing rejection as an opportunity. Ya know, when you get that negative feedback, it's an opportunity to go back into your story, and to think about, ya know, how you can improve it. And also, it is a good marker that you're trying, ya know? I still to this day, don't think I submit my stories enough. Ya know, when I said submit it to 50 journals, or 50 agents, or 50 publishers, I'm not exaggerating with that. Ya know, I often times will send out a story to 10 publications, all 10 will reject it, and I'll be like, ah it's not good enough. Ya know, but what I really gotta do is regroup. Ya know, go back, improve it, send it to 10 more. Ya know, keep on that rhythm. Keep your writing out there.