Sunday, February 19, 2012

Walk the Walk

I give inspirational talks to writing conferences all the time. I'm good at inspiration. One of my talks is called "Defeating Your Demons." In my advertisement for the talk I promise to silence all those terrible voices inside writers' heads, those voices that say that it's impossible to get published, that kids today don't read, that everything has already been said before. After hearing my rousing speech, writers in the audience are supposed to dash away, reinvigorated and restored, to WRITE!

It is time for me to give this talk to myself. I've just had a major, devastating rejection on a project that I've been working on for the past six months, a project that was VERY close to acceptance, or at least I thought that it was. And then: no go. This is on the heels of a rejection I received for another project, also the fruit of much toil, last fall. Oh, and this most recent book series was rejected for being "old fashioned" - just what an author at my stage in her career most doesn't want to hear, especially after she thought this idea was PARTICULARLY cutting edge.

This is what my demons are saying:
Your career is over.
You are washed up.
You are over the hill.
Even if you think of new ideas, they, too, will be old fashioned.
You don't even want to write books that are "edgy" or whatever the opposite is of old-fashioned.
There are thousands of books being published every year. Who needs yours?

Why is it so much easier to silence other people's demons than to silence my own?

Okay, sister, time for the Claudiaized version of the talk.

Your career is not over. In fact, the editors who rejected your work at both houses took pains to say that they want to work with you again, and SOON - just on a different project from the ones you've been working on. But still.

Besides, let's face it, those "six months" of work on this most recent project really was just a matter of weeks, if you eliminate all the non-writing time, and complaining time, and sheer idleness in between each writing stint.

You are not washed up and over the hill. Your books get good reviews. They receive some (modest) end-of-year distinctions. You get invited to cool places (like Warrensburg, Missouri, coolest of all!) to talk about them.

Old-fashioned books still win the hearts of readers, if they are done well enough. Just make your next old-fashioned book irresistible. That's not so hard to do!

There are thousands of books being published each year, so why NOT yours?

Besides, Miss Claudia, none of that is really to the point. What is the point? The point, my dear, is that you love to write. You are only happy when you are writing, particularly when you are writing in the early morning with a mug of hot chocolate beside you. Particularly when you are past the midpoint of a book. But you can't get to the middle without writing the first half. And you can't write the first half without writing the first page. And you can't write the first page without writing the first sentence.

All right. Turn off your computer. Get dressed. Walk to the Blue Door Cafe. Order hot chocolate. Drink it. Start writing. Go! Go! Go!


  1. you are amazing! rejection is part of the game but the main thing is that you're putting yourself out there and being productive. You will prevail!!- deepa

  2. I am really bummed to hear about your disappointing news, but you are such a talented, insightful, brilliant author -- I know that you have plenty more fabulous books to write! And at least some of these trendy 'edgy' books for children are really overrated -- often, there's no substance to the story at all! I hope you make yourself start writing again.