I shared these thoughts recently on a writer's blog I contribute to occasionally. It occurred to me that y'all may enjoy it, too, if for no other reason than to remind everyone to keep on keeping on towards your dreams and goals! We were asked to opine on reviews and rejection...
Somewhere between my ears another book is rolling around picking up mass. If you need a visual think more along the lines of a tumble weed in an Old Western than a snowball headed down the mountain. (My muse has attention deficit issues.) I don’t know how it works for the rest of my more learned colleagues but in my head the story shares attic space with a half dozen other tales insisting upon their turn at the keyboard. That’s where it gets complicated and it’s precisely where my thoughts on reviews and rejection begin.
The book I mentioned, the latest one forming in my head, the working title is something like “The Blessings of Rejection” and if writing what you know is the maxim, I’m well-equipped to share the power of no. Let’s just say I’m blessed and blessed indeed. I have rejection and review stories that will make you laugh and cry, simultaneously.
For whatever reason, my lot in life appears to be doing what I’m told isn’t done. I’ve learned to simply sigh anytime someone says, “Well, Shellie, it’s not altogether impossible, but it’s really not done.” Experience has taught me that I’m about to throw another log in my little engine that can and go where wiser people have the good sense not to travel.
I seem bent on pursuing rejection from a host of different sources. Apparently I like my rejection variety style. One would think that after stacking up that magic number of rejection slips and getting a foot in the door with my first non-fiction book, and after having it do better than the wildest dreams of myself, my agent, and my editor, I’d be content to bathe my wounded oft-rejected writer’s ego in it’s modest success and stick to what’s working. But no, being rejected in one genre isn’t enough for my muse. She’s turning out children’s books, fiction, non-fiction, Bible studies, you name it she’s writing it, despite the well meaning and knowledgeable ones who insist that it’s hard, if not impossible, to cross genres unless you are a seriously big time author. (Hello John Grisham.) Sigh. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m finding it difficult to find CBA representation that’s willing to take on this horse of many colors, even though my precious ABA agent is willing to split the pie and share the responsibility and the rewards of my talkative muse.
The funny thing is, I’ve stuck around long enough to do some of those “not dones” and I know something about next to impossible; it’s still possible. Almost ten years ago now, long after I had tired of filing rejection slips away alphabetically, and before my first book deal with Penguin, I birthed All Things Southern, self-pubbed a few books of my own, and decided to approach the radio world about running my daily segments, (think a rambling female Paul Harvey.) I was told that Christian stations wouldn’t pick up All Things Southern because four of the five days were just good clean fun, but not inspirational. I was told secular stations wouldn’t pick up All Things Southern because one of the five days was inspirational. Sigh. Today my short taped segments air in more than two dozen markets across the South, on country stations, oldies, talk, easy listening, and Christian. I also have a one hour live talk show called All Things Southern LIVE. FYI, heavy metal stations haven’t picked me up, but who knows what tomorrow holds?
And now, a closing thought on reviews. Despite my obvious hard-headedness in the literary world, it should be noted that I really do know when to fold ‘em in other areas. Once, many years ago, I was holding my young niece in my arms during church. It was a beautiful day and the song service was extraordinarily uplifting, which I suppose encouraged me to forego my normal trepidation about singing in public as I can’t carry a tune were it deposited in my well-meaning hands. I was well into a robust hymn when sweet Blair took her wee head off of my shoulder, looked around for the offending noise, located it, and promptly whacked me in the mouth with her rattler. I have yet to contact a single person on music row.