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28 July 2010 @ 09:12 am
borrow the future  
I cannot count the number of times that truly talented writers that I know have given up. After several years of rejection, they simply decided they didn't want to deal with that anymore. It breaks my heart when I think about all the wonderful books they will not write. But of course, it is their decision.

I also cannot count the number of times that people I thought were bad writers have been published. And more often than not, they are writing good work now. They became better writers. They dealt with rejection and they moved on. They did something that I think every writer must do, and that is borrow from the future. You must be able to see yourself successful then, and pull it forward a little to hang onto. If you can't do this, you will give up. It is an important imaginative exercise.

Writers who keep writing get published. That's what I have seen. Writers who give up, don't.

And singers. And artists. And business people. And parents.

If you want to be a success, don't dwell on how horrible it feels to be rejected over and over again. I am not saying that you have to put the feeling away or deny it. It hurts. I know it hurts. I still get rejected and it still hurts. The hurt will never go away, I don't think. But it's the way to the future.

I don't know why we have to go through all that rejection. I am not always sure that the books that are rejected are rejected because they are bad. Sometimes they are just what the letter says, not right for our list. But I do know that you can take rejection and use it. You can fuel yourself with either anger or determination to write the next book. You will write a better book next time. You will write a book that they can't possibly reject. You won't just write a book that's good enough. You will write an incredible book.

I believe it. Now, you must believe it, too.
Jo Knowlesjbknowles on July 28th, 2010 03:51 pm (UTC)
LOVE this, Mette!
d_michiko_f on July 28th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
Jo sent me here (although I do read your blog regularly). I needed this - and I will print it up to reread often! Thank you Mette! (And Jo!)
artistqartistq on July 28th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
thank you!

(Jo's friend: )
(Anonymous) on July 28th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
I'm just curious--have you truly never seen a writer who continued to write but never did get published, or it took them so long to get so little publication that they're not sure it was worth it?
metteharrisonmetteharrison on July 28th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
Never. I have never seen someone get published who ended up saying it wasn't worth it. I have never seen someone who worked at writing who didn't attain some level of success. I don't know everyone, but I know a lot of writers.

I will say that I have seen some writers who treat writing as a hobby and have a commensurate success. Almost always, writing gives back what you put in. If you give everything to the craft, it will repay you.

I won't deny that there are some people who get success that is greater than what they worked for. But the older I get, the more I find that I feel sorry for these people. Lightning doesn't strike twice, see, and they don't know how to get it to strike again because they didn't work hard the first time. They are ruined, waiting for the next strike, not knowing how to have the normal kind of success.
Moon: *  Beauty:  Evemermaiden on July 28th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
Wow. Wow. Wow.

Thank you so much for this.

I needed it. :)
(Anonymous) on July 28th, 2010 04:07 pm (UTC)
I needed to hear what you said. Thanks for your thoughts.
Karen B. Schwartzkarenbschwartz on July 28th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
I came here from Jo Knowles blog. Thanks for the hope!
Rose Greenolmue on July 28th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
I really hope so! And am trying to believe.
(Anonymous) on July 28th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you
I so needed to read this right now. Thank you. And thank you to Jo for posting the link on Facebook.

(Anonymous) on July 28th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you. This is nice to hear.
keelyinkster on July 28th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for these words of wisdom Mette, and thanks Jo for tweeting it out!

My agent is shopping my YA right now, so I'm trying really hard not to think about it, or jump each time the phone rings but be proud I've finished something I loved writing. And yes I think it's going to get published but if not, I'll hold on to how subjective the whole process is and know that the next one I write will be even better!
(Anonymous) on July 28th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
thank you
Thank you to Jo, and thank you to you. These are great and well needed words. How did you know!?
Vonny McKayvmckay on July 29th, 2010 12:45 am (UTC)
Thanks, Mette. You always say just what I'm needing to hear.
alixwritesalixwrites on July 29th, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
Great blog. Reminds me of, when I was still unpublished, I read Pat Conroy's first book. If you've never seen it, it's called The Boo, and it's AWFUL, completely incoherent, as if the author had never READ a book. And I thought, "If the guy who wrote this could write The Prince of Tides then I could write something good too. It was inspiring.
(Deleted comment)
aprilhenryaprilhenry on July 29th, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
The only one who can take you out of the game is you. I had three times in my life when I thought I would never be published (time a) or published again (times b and c). But I did not give up. Tenacity is just as important as talent.
kitlovesbookskitlovesbooks on July 29th, 2010 02:10 am (UTC)
This is so true! When I studied creative writing some of my peers were better writers than I was--then. The ones who got busy with the rest of life and let their writing go may have had payoffs they felt was worth it; I couldn't say. I kept writing--it took years!--and I'm not sorry. I love having my books out there in the world.