Rejection and Resilience


What interested me the most about the rejections that authors received from publishers and agents, beside the types of letters, and diversity of the language in the negative responses (some very positive, also), was the reaction of the author. I know when my reject slips started flooding in, I felt angry, defensive, bewildered, and sometimes indignant (usually not all at the same time). I worked hard to keep my spirits up, and push through a bit of despair to send my stories to the next publisher, hopeful of an acceptance.

We’re resilient. We’ve bended, adapted, shifted, sometimes in ways we never thought we could. I most certainly did not handle all my rejections effectively. I cursed out several agents (the one who sent the fortune cookie size response). I even wrote to one agent and told her how rude she was in her rejection letter, and would suggest no one hire her—since we do have to pay them for services.

Anyway, the resilient person, moi, does not always, to this day, handle refusal of my work well. However, the strength, I believe, is in the ability to rebound. According to Robert Brooks, Ph.D, there are four concepts that help people when confronted with rejection. All four have been touched upon in The Ladykillers Blog this week at one point or other. I’m just putting them all together.

  1. Avoid self-defeating assumption. Rejections do not indicate a basic flaw in our personality.
  2. Don’t magnify the rejection in terms of the impact it has on your life. It is not a forecast of your future. After about 75 rejection slips, I sorta had a hard time believing this one.
  3. Don’t allow the rejection to derail your dreams. Persevere.
  4. Learn from the rejection, even if there is no suggestion for change. Seek helpful feedback from others.
  5. (Mine) reevaluate the agents and publishers, the people you are hoping to win over–they my not be right for you. I’ve had to change my list several times.

Can you add to this list? What has helped you stay resilient? Cat buddies that purr on your lap are acceptable.

Breaking Away from the Rules

Sedona and other 207

Sedona, AZ–Pat Morin

Like in nature, rules are constantly broken. You can have rain, and sun, and clouds, and thunder storms, all at one time.

I, as the novice writer, don’t even know all the rules I’ve broken. But I have read many books on the art of writing, and have learned we need rules to free us from the onslaught of those unending waterfall of images and thoughts, and runaway mental scenes that go on and on, and then split into other scenes until the first scene is forgotten. Sometimes I say to myself: Put a period on that run-on thought, will ya?

I can do that more easily than I do in my everyday life. The escape of writing and being in that made-up world with its many rules is more freeing than having to deal with the stresses of everyday life. I cherish being in that rule-filled world.

It’s okay to break the rules of my dieting (more than breaking the rules of my writing), sometimes I break the rule of calling a family member, like should I every-single-day. Sometimes I break the rule of not giving the ultimate review about a fellow author (because I have to run my dog to the vet), and I haven’t read all the books I should for fellow writer (because I have all those test I have to take at Kaiser, my insurance co.).

I have to break the pattern of breaking the rules so I can get on track for, at least, a little while. It’s my mid-year-goal rule. Try to get the imagined-world rules at least a bit closer to the real-world rules.

Pep Talks: We All Need Them

Every writer needs a good pep talk from time to time. Writing as a business tends to be rife with negative feedback, whether it’s a string of rejection letters from literary agents or a bad review from an unhappy reader. Since sitting at a computer all day is such a solitary activity, it’s easy to let all that negativity pull you into the dark corner where all your insecurities lie, that place where you convince yourself that you don’t even have enough talent to write a proper grocery list. That’s why those pep talks are so crucial. Staci McLaughlin

Another writer, Priscilla Royal wrote: Most writers are fragile sorts. Some may come across as arrogant, others painfully shy, and many in between. But when it comes to that public reception of that beloved creature which has burst forth from our fevered brain, we all very nervous. That is when pep talks are needed. I thought a lot about these two statements this week and changed their words a bit to include all of us, writers, readers, humans, non-humans, the whole lot of what inhabits the earth.

I would change Staci’s wise words to: Every person, no matter who they are, needs a good pep talk from time to time. Life is rife with negative feedback, whether it’s a string of complaints from loved ones, or an unhappy co-worker or worse, a boss. It’s easy to let the negative pull you into a dark corner where all your insecurities lie (and every nook and cranny where light never shines), that place where you convince yourself (and have for many years believed) that you can’t even get it together to write a proper grocery list. That’s when, as Staci reminds us, you need a pep talk.

I would change Priscilla’s wise words to: Most humans are fragile sorts. Some of us may come across as arrogant, others painfully shy, and many in between. But when it come to that public reception of any work or words that have burst forth from our fevered brains, that is when many of us are bundles of nerves … some about to unravel. That’s when we need the pep talks.

Where do the pep talks come from? Mainly, ourselves. Ann Parker posted a video showing a five-year-old girl talking into a mirror, cheering herself on, reminding herself of all that she had going for her, including her house, her PJ’s, and sister. Heartwarming. Reaffirming. Reminding us to be our own cheerleaders and to move on toward our desires, over mounds of self-doubt, by remembering the little things that made us feel worthwhile, and important.

The Best April Fool’s Day

I looked up the history of April Fool’s Day, and decided to share a shortened version for you:

The history of April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day is uncertain, but the current thinking is that it began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year’s Day was moved from March 25 – April 1 (new year’s week) to January 1. Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1. These people were labeled “fools” by the general populace, were subject to ridicule and sent on “fool errands,” sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a “poisson d’avril” or “April fish” because a young naive fish is easily caught.

My husband is a prankster. He has a fun-loving nature and a soft heart. Twenty-three years ago, on April 1, he Sedona 037took me out to dinner at the Turning Point Restaurant in Piermont, NY. During dinner he asked me to marry him, smack dab in the middle of me chewing food, in a tone that I liken to discussing the weather. Now, the back story is that he had asked me before and I had said no. (He had asked four months after we dated, and we Capricorns are slow, cautious spirits that don’t move that quickly.) I nodded yes before I had swallowed my food, eyes widened. How utterly romantic. ;) . Then he added, Larry being Larry. “If you said no, I was just going to say: April Fools-ha-ha.” He had it planned, ring and all.

POV–Philosophical Meandering

Harvey Robinson (“The Historical Point of View”) wrote: “It is clear that all our information in regard to past events and conditions must be derived from evidence of some kind. This evidence is called the source. Sometimes there are a number of good and reliable sources for an event … Sometimes there is but a single, unreliable source.” He continues to explain that we not only lose a sense of reliability of the event, but what do we truly learn from just one source?

Sarah Cooper, a history teacher wrote “Making History Mine …Personal Primary Sources.”

Sarah Copper had her class define primary source as point of view. The students, middle grade, knew that a primary source was something written by someone who was at the event, (single point of view) or an eyewitness. Sarah brought in a jade lion and asked the class to tell her about the person who owned this jade lion and the society around it. The answers varied as can be expected: “A lion trainer owned the real lions, a zookeeper, and a tourist bought the lion.” Three different perspectives.

This got me thinking: Philosophically speaking: Do we as writers deny the reader a deeper essence of knowledge (of a character, or scene, a lion statue) of the story by limiting the story to single POV? Doesn’t the multiple POV give the reader more perceptions into the story, therefore touching more of the readers’ own beliefs—helping them see a richer and different perspective by showing them multiple views on one subject?Of course it does, some readers might say. Some writer’s might respond that delving into the single person, from that specific point of view, gives the writing the intense depth and passion enriching the character and the story. However, I’m thinking more from the angle of what does the writer owe the reader. Some authors say that writing from the first person is easier and they still deliver a wonderful story–the true goal of writing. I guess this just boils down to individual preferences and an internal guideline of author’s ethics.

Writing a play in six hours and having it performed in twenty-four? YES!

Simplexity:directed by Lisa Drostova

The Gatekeeper
I was selected to write a play for the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco’s (PCSF) 24-Hour Playwright Festival, performed on March 23, 2013 at PCSF’s Studio 250 Theater. The production was a charitable event to support PCSF and included seven one-act plays comprising the Saturday evening format. All plays were written, directed, and rehearsed in less than 24 hours. The theme for the Festival, Simplicity, was chosen at random at 9 PM on Friday the night before the performance. All scripts had to be written and submitted the next day by 6:30 AM. The number of actors and the directors were also chosen at random.

The play I wrote, titled “Simplexity,” is a short, humorous play based on a random meeting between two college students at the campus coffee shop, Cafe 101. Claire, an art major, who just received a poor review of her painting from her art professor, is hysterical, and interrupts Devon, a lit major, talking on his cell phone while trying to make a deal to write another college student’s lit paper.Claire brings the complex to the simple in her art, and Devon believes he brings the simple to the complex in his writings for other students.

“Simplexity” was wonderfully directed by Lisa Drostova and the play was brought to life by two very talented actors: Rosalie Muller-Boiral, who played Claire, and Jerren Jones, who played Devon. You can view more information about the event here.

It was one of the most exciting adventures in my life. Electric, yet exhausting. As Lisa, the director said to the actors: You made the audience know what fun is! The audiences roared with approval for the actors, the director and for moi, the playwright.

I will discuss, in another post, the changing POV of a play, and the playwright’s dilemma in hearing the real voice on the stage.

Thank you so much for visiting and sharing in my joy!



the beginning and ending of the creative process

My friend Adell is an Plein Air artist. She paints outside and in real light. This winter, she wanted to learn snow: its texture, and how the light of day, bright and dying, changed its essence. Then, she needed to translate it onto canvas. After the sketching, she did the painting. Then she sent it to me, and wrote, “Hey, this is what I painted today. I hope you like it.”

When I spoke to her about my post, we discussed the similarities in our art forms. And we came to the same conclusions about the beginning and the ending of the creative process.

In the beginning, we have to learn our craft.

Then, we decide what we want to say about that craft that is unique to us.

Pieces of our work are created, polished, and our ending?

We send them out to the world and say, “Hey world, I created this. I hope you like it.”

All those telling details

All those telling details:

ImageWhat do many writers have in common? A diversity of knowledge? Lots of research books? “How to” pamphlets and magazines and books crammed into shelves and crevices and piled high near walls? Did you say, “all of above?” I bet you did.

The amount of research we writers accumulate could earn us several degrees. I often say my favorite books are the dictionary and the thesaurus, basic details for the beginning and advanced writer. But really, for each individual we introduce, each career, we do our own background checks and bios. For my last short story I read two books, part of another, and a few articles as references: Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, Remote Viewing manual, Are you Psychic? (I’m not), and some here and there articles about telepathy.

For the characters in my novel, I’m back at accumulating details– have a lawyer, Ronnie, who studied at NYU. I looked up the civil law in NY and CA. I read about about landmark cases in women’s rights. Sam, another character, is savant-like. So I read David Tammet’s stories, two books about being a savant: Born on a Blue Day and Embracing the Wild Sky. Actually, the second book says a lot about our evaluation of intelligence. So I have Sam just retired from a very lucrative business of alternate intelligence and trade testing for corporations and schools. That’s just the beginning.

Anyway, you get the picture. We are a well-learned lot. Details are our business, learning them, picking out the best to choose for the story, not giving away or weighing down our work with them, and, most importantly, unfolding them into interesting reads that keep the eyes wandering along our many pages.

For more about “Telling Details”- go to the ladykillers blog at:

Rushing for the Herring

IMG_0022Had a wonderful time this morning in Sausalito, CA! The herring ran into Richardson Bay, and the fishermen, the pelicans, the seagulls, the seals, and the sea lions had a party. What a healthy party, too! You’ll see Stawberry/Tiburon, Angel Island, the Bay Bridge, and the San Francisco skyline. It was one of those magical moments.IMG_0047

Herring Run

Herring Run