It’s a book, not your baby

We get tripped up by how much we love our own writing. We know it’s a business, and yet every time we get a rejection, it feels like a poisoned sword to the heart. It happens to the best of us. Jerry Spinelli (who I had the pleasure of interviewing for this book) said that every rejection made him feel like putting his head in an oven.

The mistake that we’re all making is that we think of these stories as our babies. But we’re producing a product for purchase, not a child who will love us back and hopefully not toss us in a nursing home when we’re aged. You can get over old stories in a way you never could with a human being. Do you remember that angst-riddled novella you wrote in college? Do you even want to? Exactly.

Last year I was devastated when my agent decided to pass on one of my books. It had only been rejected three times, and I really labored over a rewrite. But looking back, I see that it’s good, but still requires more work. And since I’ve moved on, editing that manuscript is low on my list of priorities. One of my manuscripts is out on submission and I’m anxious, but if it’s rejected I’m ready to move on to the next editor.

Thinking of it as a book and not my baby goes a long way to being objective which in turn makes me able to rebound from those poisonous swords. In this business, only the tough survive, but you don’t need to be that tough if you have some perspective. That thing you’re writing is a book. It’s not your baby. And you have a lot more where that came from.

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