One of my favorite television shows is Criminal Minds. Great ensemble cast, amazing writing, and anything that involves the mindset of the deranged tends to fascinate me. What I particularly like is at the open and close of each episode, one of the characters voices over a quote--some familar; others new to me. Just the other day, the show closed with:
"Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self." --Cyril Connolly
It's similar to the advice we've all probably heard at one point: Don't write to be published; write what you know and love and, with any luck, others will also love it enough to publish it.
But if you're anything like me, while writing the book you love, a little voice niggles at your brain, saying: This is crap. No one will ever appreciate such drivel. Call yourself a writer? Ha! When friends, family and critique partners read our works and heap on praise, we know they're telling us what we long to hear: That we're not wasting a copious amount of time on something that will never have public consumption.
My day job is spent writing for a lifestyle magazine. Some of the articles are commissioned by the editor; others are assigned to me after being purchased by a client. Advertorials, if you will--paid editorial used to promote their company/practice but written to read as editorial. When I write for the editor, she alone approves and edits my work; when I write advertorials, the clients review the articles and I make whatever changes they'd like prior to printing. The other day a client reviewed his article and had some pretty harsh things to say about my writing. Because I'm a professional (and I'd like to keep my job), I refrained from responding with anything other than an offer to rewrite it.
|flickr image by Jeff Kubina|
So how do you keep going when you'd rather do anything but waste more time as a writer? You have to love the craft. You have to appreciate that the world looks different through your eyes than anyone else's. That the story within you can be told only by you. And if the rejections continue, you have to decide if you are ready to stop submitting or if you need to further your craft with instruction from professionals.
I'm committed to the manuscript currently on my PC and have set a goal for completion that I believe to be reachable. Once it's finished, then I'll share it with the writers in this group and listen to their feedback. Then, after taking their suggestions, I'll edit and then submit. I'm sure I'll get frustrated at times and hurt when I get negative comments, but I'd like to think Connolly could also have said: