Let me tell you Oprah… by Deb Eileen

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.

15 Replies to “Let me tell you Oprah… by Deb Eileen”

  1. And something for all of the Writers out there…you have put your thoughts on paper. You can actually place the Oprah sticker on a stack of paper. I will have to apply them to my head, because I have not had the courage to write them down. Bravo to all Writers, from an avid Reader!

  2. Well said! If it all holds true, I should not make anyone want to stab me when my first sells (maybe this month?!!! knock wood!!!) I have dozens of rejections, and that doesn’t even count the ones that I got in the form of silent nonresponsiveness. How can I pin those to my wall? Anyone know anything about physics?

  3. I have accumulated over one hundred rejection letters. I’m not about to throw them away. They almost seem worth laminating. I did like the idea of sticking an Oprah sticker on a mock-up of my dream book cover. Could it be you are in possession of THE SECRET? 😉

  4. Eileen, this was SOOOO spot-on. You hit the rejection-slip-collecting nail on the head!

    I saved some of my more encouraging rejection letters, but immediately tossed the ones that made me feel about an inch tall. Now I kinda wish I’d saved them so I could make a decoupage project with them.

  5. Thank you, Maia. Taking credit for living THE SECRET might be the “key” to get you on Oprah…EXCEPT then a writer really wouldn’t need Oprah, would s/he? 😉

  6. This is an awesome post.
    I have saved EVERY SINGLE rejection letter. Even the emailed ones.
    When I get a bit cocky?
    I go back and re read them – every one – and remember.
    As a writer I will not lose where I came from.

  7. It took me a long time to toss my rejection letters. But I did, and it felt good, but not SO good that it meant that I was really invested in them, you know? It was just time, and out they went, bye-bye.

    Great post, Eileen, and when you’re on Oprah if you could just work Catching Genius in, yeah, that’d be great 😀

  8. Great post, Eileen! I know I’m not the first to say I relate, like, A LOT. I was having a mini-breakdown the other day and one of the witnesses said to me, “You know, I just don’t think you should keep trying to write while your kids are so young. Just put it off for another four years when the kids are grown up.” (Grown up – please. They’ll be 5 and 9, like I’ll get any work done then, either). My god, she could have killed me on the spot and it would have felt better. So then I felt like the loser writer AND the loser mother. Great. Thanks. I bit my tongue and said, “Well, I’ll just keep trying to make it all come together, I’m sure it will,” while of course I have no idea how it will. I think that’s what makes JK Rowling’s story so inspirational. And your post, as well. Thanks for cheering me up, as always!

  9. What a great post, Eileen. I love the idea of people printing Oprah book stickers and putting them on manuscripts!

    And you’re right — all of this, the whole process of getting here, the endless ups and downs, will make a helluva story one day…

  10. I LLLLOOOOOVVVEEE my rejection letters! I am never going to toss them! They show me the hill I have been traveling. I don’t even delete the emailed rejections–I may print them all out one day and put them in a binder. I am proud of each and every one of those rejections–It shows me that I did not give up and that I want this bad enough to work hard enough to get published.

    I don’t want to forget how hard and frustrating it has been and how many times I thought about throwing it all away. Those rejection letters, especially the positive ones (is that an oxymoron?) helped to keep me focused.

    Two mantras I try to live by in my writing life:

    TPT–Talent, Persistence, Timing courtesy of Cindy Procter-King
    and this quote by Henry Ford:

    “If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

    Great post Eileen! Thanks for sharing! I wish Stephen King took a picture of the nail with the rejection letters!

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