Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Confidence Pitfalls

My writer’s group gives out awards. In fact, on my first visit the hostess gathered us from the snack table in the kitchen and arranged the ten of us on the couch and floor in front of the fireplace. They even did one of those tongue-drum-rolls. I was fascinated. Sandwiched between an accountant and an aerobics instructor, I waited eagerly.

The hostess handed out cheap plastic leis and an onion that she’d spray-painted gold. Needless to say, I had to have them. You see they were silly prizes for really hard feats of accomplishments. The lei was given to whoever did the most submissions that month. 

Query letters, proposals, whatever…as long as you sent something in. The gold onion was for the person who’d received the most rejections. It’s easy to celebrate successes, they all knew that. What is hard is pressing on despite someone telling you, in black and white, that you’re not good enough.

Being a writer, at least one who cares if they’re published, is tough on the ego. I once received a rejection notice that wasn’t even on a whole piece of paper. Just a three-inch strip of paper with the words, “Thanks, but we’ll pass,” written on it. Ouch. The silly prizes at my critique group were symbols of encouragement to keep going, keep trying.

I like reading rejection stories from famous authors. I like watching Biography of how writers or directors kept coming up against people that told them to quit, and how their success is all the more sweet because they didn’t.

There are a lot of pitfalls in this profession, things like jealousy, discouragement, frustration, doubt. But surrounding yourself with a good support group is like balm to the wounds inflicted by the form letter rejection. 

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