Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Nerves of Steel

Admit it.

To write, you must have nerves of steel.

Even when you feel like you have nerves of wet noodles.

You need even more steel running through your veins when you start submitting to agents and publishers. Obsessive email checking, anxiously awaiting the postman's arrival, and checking Publisher's Marketplace for the latest new agent alert can be daunting. Yet if you want to be traditionally published, you have to go through it.

When I started querying agents for my first novel, those rejection letters hurt. As I've progressed to querying my second and third novels, those rejection letters still make me wince. But they don't hurt as bad as they once did.

That's a good thing. It's a sign of growth, of my thin skin being toughened up and growing thicker.

In a way, I'm grateful that my first novel didn't sell. Not only wasn't it up to snuff, but it gave me the chance to start developing those nerves of steel. I don't know that I would have been able to handle negative reviews or poor sales at that point in my writing career.

Now, I'm ready. They will still sting. They will still hurt. But I will be ready for them.

How are your nerves doing in this writing game?

Don't forget to enter the Christmas Short Story contest! Deadline is November 1. You can find all the details here!


  1. This post is great. Every rejection is good for us, if we look at it the right way.

    I'm not at this stage yet - still working on the first draft. I am hoping though that my nerves are prepared. I think I'll be okay because I have a pretty thick skin anyways because of past life experiences but you never know. I could be woefully unprepared....

  2. I don't have any experience with that but my husband, who is working on his English/Creative Writing masters, has a stack of rejection letters from scholarly and trade journals he's submitted poetry to.

    It's such a racket, to get a teaching job at the college level (which is his eventual goal) you have to show that you've been published, and as many times as possible. But getting published is extremely hard because the competition is so stiff. Whether one is published or not should not determine how good of teacher one will be, IMO, but unfortunately that's the game called academia.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. My skin is perhaps a tad too thick. I admire that you've completed three novels. I'm still stuck in my second. However, my essays have enjoyed some success mired in those many a rejection.

    Definitely need the tough skin to play the writing game.

  4. I'm querying a couple different projects right now, and my nerves are ready. I think :/

  5. For me the most difficult part of being a writer is waiting for acceptance from agents. I really see how difficult it is for anybody to garner representation and I will appreciate it so much more when I do get it.

  6. Rejections are always difficult and I suppose we'll enjoy the success far more when it ultimately comes to us (or so I try to tell myself anyway).

  7. Hi, Melissa! I so agree with you. It's the rejections and the rough roads in our lives that help us grow stronger and stand tough in our trials.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today!


  8. Nerves of steel - so true! And buckets of patience, sweat and hours of toiling...LOL. Ah, writing. I've some way to go before the querying stage. Good luck with your querying and thanks for sharing your experience with us! ;)

  9. Hi, Melissa! My fist novel, as rough as it is, will always have a special place in my heart. You will get it out there one of these days.

    My nerves are dancing as I edit. It's an intensive thing, but I'm so looking forward to using it as bait for agents. ;) But I have about 40 more chapters to do.

    ~Elizabeth :)

  10. PS--guess what? I'm your 100th follower! I will never be forgotten. <3

  11. I knew I'd be rejected a lot before I found an agent. And then my agent started shopping the book around, and we got tons of rejections from editors. And then the editor of my first 2 books rejected my 3rd.

    Nerves of steel are an absolute must in this game! That, and knowing that rejection is about the work, not about me.

    Right now, my nerves are on edge. I'm so close to getting my 3rd novel out to my agent I can taste it...but still at least another month of revising ahead of me. Arrgh! (And then we'll see if my agent likes the book...or if she'll reject it!) :)


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