When a friend or I suffer a writing or publishing set back, we tell each other “at least this will give you something to talk about with Oprah.” This usually makes us feel better because:
a) the idea of chatting with Oprah gives us a warm fuzzy feeling
b) the mere idea of appearing on Oprah, gives us dreams of vast book sales which makes the current rejection or set back seem not so bad compared to our planned future glory
c) it reminds us that rejection is a part of earning our “writer” credentials. After all we want the respect of our fellow writers.
Do you doubt me on point C? Close your eyes and picture this for a minute. You are at a writer conference and you are introduced to someone. They tell you they just sold their first book. You congratulate them. They tell you it is the first book they ever wrote! When they finished it an agent picked it right up and it sold in an auction a week later for a zillion dollars and a three book deal.
Admit it, right now you are imagining waiting until they turn around, then stabbing them in the back with a number 2 pencil. As they crawl off to die a slow death of lead poisoning, you’ll be yelling “who is going to write the rest of that three book deal now? huh?!”
It isn’t that we don’t want other writers to have success- we just want to know they suffered a bit along the way. We want them to earn it. Ask yourself- would JK Rowling and the Harry books be as popular, if instead of being a single mother on welfare, writing in a pub with stacks of rejections piling up- she was botoxed and polished, writing when the kids were with the nanny, in between shopping trips to Prada? I don’t think so.
Any writer who has read Stephen King’s On Writing can picture the nail pounded into the wall of his bed with the rejection slips on it. Or the scene where he is struggling to pay for medication (the pink stuff) for his kids when he makes his first sale.
Being a writer means rejection. Next time you get a rejection or suffer a setback- think of how you’ll tell the story to Oprah. Picture every writer hearing the story cheering you on for having the guts to stand back up and keep going. If you are still down, make one of those Oprah book club stickers on your home printer with a label kit and stick it on your manuscript. Can’t hurt.