Monday, January 17, 2011

The value of the rejection process

I swam down to McNally Jackson tonight to catch the greatly talented and fetchingly modest about her talent Betsy Lerner talking about her book THE FOREST FOR THE TREES.

Companions in crime, Kathleen Orteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze and Mer-Bear of the Lair joined me.

Meredith take notes at these things since she's the only one I can boss around the best at it. Both Kathleen and I  hissed "write that down" when Betsy said this:


One of the most important things a writer needs to learn is how to to separate information from analysis. 

She was talking about the stream of rejections that come with the writing biz.  It's important to separate the information "no, this agent is not going to read your work" from analysis "this agent doesn't think your work is good enough"

If you think of every rejection as an analysis of your work you'll make yourself nuts.

If you think of the query process as simply as way to get information --which agent wants to read your book-- you'll make yourself less nuts.

Betsy said it better of course, and you should read THE FOREST FOR THE TREES. to get the full sense of how eloquent she is on the subject.

14 comments:

RobynBradley said...

It's a great book. Her chapters on "writer types" were spot on. (And no, I'm not The Neurotic. No, honest. Really.) I got me a signed copy (a friend was interviewing Betsy and got it for me!).

Ricky Bush said...

That's the ticket, Janet. You've been telling us for a long time that agents are beyond analysis.

Vanessa K. Eccles said...

Rejection is just a part of the process. I just try to remember that nothing of great worth comes without risk. Putting yourself out there is an accomplishment all in itself.

Transparent Mama said...

I'll be buying that book. Thanks, as always, for the insight.

Miles said...

This will probably make everyone mad, but I really did not like The Forest for the Trees. I don't identify with any of the crazy people Lerner seems to suggest are the only kind of real writers. I'm not perfect or anything, but I'm not really ambivalent or neurotic or wicked or any of that stuff. Maybe I'm an anomaly, but I really don't think you have to be an unbalanced wacko to want to be a writer.

Munk Davis said...

Coincidence... Making myself less nuts is one of my 2013 resolutions.

Kidding aside... I appreciate yours and Ms. Lerner's logic.

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

There has only been one rejection that made me hug my pillow, but it was because I liked the agent, or my perception of the agent was, this is someone I want in my corner, which is not the same as the best agent for my work. Less nuts is good.

Elisabeth Black said...

I read that book because you said it was so good. And it was.

Margaret Yang said...

See? Reason #45 why form rejections are good! Form rejections are information. Personalized rejections invite analysis. Big time. Long live the form.

Whirlochre said...

The more times your backside is whupped, the more you know where you sit — unless you mistake the bursting of incandescent light from your backside as the lashing of some celestial whip, in which case, go rodeo.

Either way, check the dust, before, during, and after, it settles.

Dan said...

I got my first two rejections this past week, and although they sting, they're not really indictments on my book, because they never read my book. They read a 250 word description of the book.

If the rejections were analysis of anything, it was of my query writing abilities, which I already know aren't so hot.

Kyler said...

Miles, you don't have to be an unbalanced wacko to WANT to be a writer; you have to be an unbalanced wacko to BE a writer.

Jodi R. said...

Easier said than done, of course.

But Lerner is awesomeness personified, for sure... I want to go to there.

Jan Markley said...

That's good advice!