Friday, March 09, 2012

When They Tell You No

I'm not just talking editors here. As writers we face no at every turn, and I dare say most of us cave somewhere in the process. There's a reason they say that diligence is the most important characteristic of a writer. It doesn't matter how good you are if you can't keep your shoulder against the yoke.

"No" can be carefully hidden in comments that may not throw up a wall and stop you cold, but they may covertly plant a seed that does just as much damage. But when you let that obstacle grind your writing to a halt, you do it to yourself.

Look at these no's and my money's on the fact you've heard one or more:

1. You can't write a novel in present tense.
2. You use too much passive voice.
3. Your grammar needs major work.
4. You can't have a platform without a blog.
5. You must traditionally publish to be taken seriously.
6. You  don't have what it takes to publish yet.
7. You need an agent to traditionally publish.
8. You can't break into a dollar-a-word magazine with your credentials.
9. You must use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, fill-in-the-blank.
10. You must write short stories before you write a book.
11. Success is the sale of 10,000 books.

Gosh, the shoulds, oughts and can'ts come at you from all directions. However, you err in digging in your heels and dissing the messager. Don't say, "Nope, you're wrong." Instead, study the obstacle. Give it thought. Even sleep on it. Then, once you've wrapped your mind around the negative dilemma, compose a cure for it.

1. Earn the skill to remove any doubt.
2. Practice your craft to remove any doubt.
3. Perform the deed that will remove any doubt.

 Don't get in some juvenile argument with the naysayer. Talk is cheap. Action speaks volumes. In this business, a lot of online noise is about confronting the No-people with nothing other than hot air. Serious writers, however, are quietly proving people wrong with their actions, their writing, their eventual success.


Lyn Fairchild Hawks said...

Amen, Hope! Composing a cure through craft and study is the answer. When we're told we don't know, we can't, or we have to do such and such, we have to follow our hearts and guts, which are part of the brain operation. The gut where the most nerves are gives us direction and the heart is another testing ground, and then we harness the brain to get the job done. As someone facing a no right now, your post was right on for me!



Anne Wayman said...

Naysayers don't deserve much, or maybe any of my time. Life is just too short.

Hope Clark said...

Actually, naysayers can be helpful, if we develop a strong sense of self to determine how much we should pay attention to. When we are rejected, our work might stink, and we can take that "no" and improve. I listen to naysayers - and just decide how much I'll take to heart so I can learn and improve the best I can.

Anthony J. Langford said...



Heard them all and used to try to tick every box. If I did everything they said, surely I would get published. Right? I read so many writing books, I wrote and wrote and edited and edited again. I wrote four novels in five years, that remained unpublished, then decided to do it my way.

I recently had a story rejected for a particular reason. Too obscure.

I sent it (untouched) to another publication. This time, they said too obvious. I kid you not.

I beleive in the story and have not edited it since and will send it out again elsewhere. If you listen to everyone, you can chase your tail into madness. I'll do it my way or not at all.

For the record, I've quite a few stories and poems published lately, so something's working.


Hope Clark said...

LOL - the bottom line is to listen just enough to learn from the comments and not take any of them as gospel. Be true to ourselves, but open-minded.

Unknown said...

Love this message: listen, learn, *do*! So important!!

Bagby said...

I left a comment yesterday, but I noticed you chose not to post it. It didn't occur to me until just now, in the middle of my afternoon jog, that what I wrote could have been misread as insulting to you. I sincerely hope you didn't read it that way, but if so, please accept my deepest apologies--I should have taken the time to write more clearly. I would never, never want to insult someone I respect and admire so much. You offer an inspiring example and a wonderful resource, and I hope I didn't imply otherwise. Again, my apologies.

Hope Clark said...

You earlier message was garbled. No problem.

Bagby said...

Phew! Best of all possible outcomes. Thank you so much for taking the time to follow up.