If you’re an aspiring writer, this is a not-to-be-missed post about rejection and not giving up.
A few weeks ago, I read a blog post titled, ‘How To Cope with Rejection and Keep on Writing‘. The author of the post, Lauren Keegan, had sent her fifth completed manuscript out into the world, and the rejections had started trickling in.
There was so much I admired about Lauren’s post and as soon as I read it, I approached her and asked if I could post it here. Lauren went one step further, and rewrote it, especially for Writers in the Attic.
‘It’s not the first time I’ve experienced a series of rejections for my work, but instead of becoming easier, it’s actually becoming harder.’
Read on to learn more about Lauren’s tenacity and strength, and how not to give up.
Lauren Keegan is a writer and psychologist from the Wollondilly Shire in NSW. She works in a public mental health service in Sydney South-West, specialising in perinatal services for pregnant women or new mothers who have or are at risk of developing a mental illness.
Lauren has been blogging about books and writing topics for almost six years on her website (formerly known as The Australian Bookshelf Blog). Her eclectic taste in reading also reflects her varied writing experience: from freelance health writing and dabbling in young adult fantasy, now settling into psychological thrillers and crime fiction. This year she began working on her seventh manuscript and hopes to one day see her book stocked in a bookstore.
When she’s not at work, writing novels or running around after a busy toddler, she’s enjoying a cup of tea (and a mint slice or two) with a good book.
The Anchor That is Writing
anchor. a means of stability (Macquarie Dictionary)
It’s something that I just keep on coming back to.
As a child, I wrote innocent stories about dogs and wildlife clubs and elves.
As an adolescent, I wrote angst-ridden journal entries, disclosing my innermost fears and desires to the blank pages of diaries protected with (rather flimsy!) locks and keys.
In my late teens, while studying psychology, I wrote essays and literature reviews, but it wasn’t until my early twenties that I felt the pull to write a full-length novel. Almost a decade later, I have a young family, a psychology career, a dog and a vegetable garden, but it’s the writing that has been my constant companion through all the ups and downs. It’s been my outlet, both creatively and emotionally.
It’s my anchor. Writing has helped me process grief, it’s channeled my anger, it’s captured travel experiences and important moments in my life. Its stretched my creativity, its guided my wandering mind and challenged me on an intellectual, emotional and psychological level.
I’ve been writing seriously now for about eight or nine years. I have six complete manuscripts under my belt. The first two manuscripts I self-published under a pseudonym many years ago. I made all the rookie mistakes as I had no idea what I was doing. It was an invaluable experience, though, because I learnt more about the craft of writing and I accessed constructive feedback that offered insight into my strengths and weaknesses. This experience has helped me continue to grow as a writer.
Since that time, I’ve become connected with various writing communities both online and face to face, I’ve attended many workshops and conferences, and I’ve kept on writing.
A couple of months ago, I finally felt my fifth manuscript (a crime fiction novel) was ready to be released into the world. I prepared my book pitch and began to query agents in Australia and abroad. I was sending off a couple of queries each week and as the weeks went on the rejection emails started to filter through.
‘This is not the first time I’ve experienced rejection for my work. However, instead of the process becoming easier, it’s actually become a lot harder.’
This is not the first time I’ve experienced rejection for my work. However, instead of the process becoming easier, it’s actually become a lot harder. Years have passed since I’ve submitted my work in the hope of publication and I know that my writing has improved. I’ve further honed the craft, I’ve developed my voice and I’ve adjusted my writing processes and found a good rhythm that fits into my life. So now that I’m delivering the very best of my work out into the world and I’m still getting a “thank you, but this is not a good fit for me” response, it can be utterly gut-wrenching.
I know my writing isn’t perfect, but I’d like to have the opportunity to get it as close to perfection as it can be.
There are days I feel like giving up, there are days I feel angry at the book industry in Australia (agents who want published writers and publishers who want agented authors) and then there are days where stories are so alive in my mind that I couldn’t possibly tear myself away from the writing process. I can’t—and won’t—give up on my dream.
So even though I’ve felt disheartened, I haven’t been able to stop writing.
I’ve had a new idea—something completely different to what I’ve previously written—swirling around in my head for a couple of months now. I’ve thrown myself into this new project and it’s already softening the blow of rejections I’ve received … I know it’s not the end of the road for me. I have so many more stories to write.
So, I’ll keep on coming back to writing. Even though a writing career is an uncertainty, I’ll keep on doing the one thing that has provided me with a sense of stability throughout the course of my life.
The anchor, that is writing.
Writers in the Attic
This has been the 40th post in this wonderful series! I’m so indebted to all of you wonderful writers who have contributed. It’s been such a joy to read all of your essays, so thank you for your time and courage in putting your words out there.
For any writer who would like to write a personal essay for Writers in the Attic, please contact me here. The topic is fairly broad—anything to do with writing, your writing life or what writing means to you. I find 600-1000 words is a good length.
I acknowledge the time and effort involved in writing these pieces by sending a small gift as a thank you.
You don’t have to be a writer, just love writing. I enjoy reading every essay I receive, so please don’t be frightened to take the plunge!