Monday, January 17, 2011
Failure can define you or refine you. I met someone fascinating this weekend. It’s unusual for me to tear up in the first two hours of knowing someone, but I had a lot of firsts on epiphany Saturday. At the conference for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, which I will probably never quit talking about, we had a breakout session where three authors shared their publishing experiences. One author, well-meaning, I’m sure, shared about how she did almost nothing to get swept up in the magical world of publishing. She wrote a book, didn’t bother to tell friends or family for fear of it never going anywhere, and sent it away. It immediately got picked up and there she was, happily telling the rest of us all about it. It was inspirational at best, but I can’t say that I learned anything from her story. The next author, however, will always hold a hero status for me. I’d been sitting by her during the whole group session and loved chatting with her, which made her story that much more endearing. Her husband, whom she described as a computer geek, had helped her make a chart of her experience submitting manuscripts. The chart indicated each novel she had written with x marks for rejection letters she’d received back. In the end, she received a grand total of 103 rejections. I want to say that the ultimate result was the one that mattered, since she’ll soon have a published copy of her book, but I can’t. Each rejection was important, too. To use an old cliché, each “no” was one “no” closer to a “yes.” I can tell you firsthand how frustrating it is to tell people that I write “what would be picture or chapter books.” It’s not a book if it’s not printed in book form. It’s just my own musing, which might not mean anything to anyone but me (much like this blog). My goal has been to be the 2% (the amount of submitted material which is actually published). I think it’s time to change that goal and get one step closer to 103 rejection letters. Fall down seven times, stand up eight.