Ever Onward: Moving Past Rejection to Creative Courage

These are my rejection letters. They represent a lot of closed doors, all the times my hard work and dreams were met with “no.”

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I heard “you’re not good enough” so many times that I wrote a book called Subpars. It went on to be published and re-titled Flashfall. Tomorrow, the sequel to that book releases.

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But here’s the thing-I STILL get rejected. I’m dealing with it even now.

So what do we dreamers do? Guard our hearts and stop putting ourselves out there? Or can we celebrate the fact that we are making time do what we love? That we are brave souls for sharing our art with the world.

They don’t send out letters for that.

So, from one dreamer to another: I see you there, with your heart on your sleeve. This world is fraught with those who will say we are not enough. But I celebrate you and your courage to do what you love-despite those voices.

I’m currently in the midst of Flashtide promo–and the wild hope that the world will hear about my book and care enough to show interest. That is an incredibly tricky place for me to navigate emotionally, I’ve learned. So, these past few days I’ve neglected some of those marketing “should dos” for the simple task of putting fresh words to a fresh page.

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It seems there are times, no matter how many years I’ve spent writing, where this feels particularly daunting. Scary, even. But I did it anyway, and I’ve broken through to the place where it is a joy to write again. For the first time in three years I don’t have a deadline driving me. Just the call of this new imaginary world and its inhabitants, and my curiosity to see how it all turns out.

That is the true success of overcoming rejection. My creative joy is still there, past the hurt and doubt, waiting for me to find it, and discover what new adventures lie ahead.

What I have going for me this time, is the success of having done this before. Of knowing that all the closed doors can be used as stepping stones to get where I need to be. It still aches, but there is a lightness to my steps that stems from hope.

 

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These letters were not the end of my writing journey or publishing dreams. Because I didn’t give them that power. They don’t represent missed opportunities, but rather proof that I’m bravely engaging in creative pursuit–in all its ups and downs.

We learn, we grow. We get better if we just keep going.

So I celebrate you today, my fellow dreamers. Let’s pick up our pens and start a fresh page. Let’s get excited about this adventure that is ours to take. Let’s toss discouragement aside and see with clear eyes what new discoveries await us.

Ever onward, friends.

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Writing Crimes #1: Purple Prose

Ah, purple prose. The crime of flowery writing. I’ve actually had an agent call me out on this in a first pages critique.

Ugh.

Editors have told me: if you think something you’ve written is particularly stellar, and a true, shining example of your writing prowess, then you should most likely CUT IT.

OUCH.

Our first instinct as writers is to say, BUT…and then, BUT…

This was (and is) a hard lesson for me to apply. I’ve learned it the hard way—by way of countless rejection letters.

But here’s the essential truth of purple prose: IT PULLS THE READER OUT OF THE SCENE. If I think of it in terms of screenwriting, it’s like giving a character a monologue that makes a viewer think, “Oh, yeah—I’m the audience, and I’m watching something that IS FAKE.” It’s very hard to get your audience back on board after this point–especially if you continue to commit this crime.

You know the old writer’s adage: “kill your darlings”. This is that. It’s not easy, but it is what separates the rookies from the repped and published.

SO…go back through your MS, keeping an eye out for sentences that might possibly wax a bit “purple prose.” This often creeps in when DESCRIBING things, like how things look, or how a character feels.  Be a better writer and SHOW these details instead.  So if you find phrases that lean a bit purple prose in your writing, just archive those moments…you can always add them back.

You’ll find this technique increases your novel’s momentum–especially key at the start of your novel.

Your readers will thank you.