Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fanning the Flames of Rejection

"Rejected by 121 houses before its publication in 1974, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance thrust Robert M. Pirsig into stardom, selling more than three million copies in paperback alone." ~New York Times

All writers need these nuggets of hope to cling to like a industrial-strength raft in the sometimes frigid ocean of the publishing business. I can picture Mr. Pirsig licking the stamp on the 121st envelope before trudging off to the mailbox. What must he have told himself? That the other 120 editors who couldn't find a market for it were blind? That, somewhere, someone, would see the flame of his story the way he saw it? Would he have made it to stamp number 150? 200?

The novels we write may not be for everyone. I can count on both hands the number of people who've said to me, "Why can't you just write something simple?" or "People don't want to think that hard when they read a book." While I respect their opinion as a potential reader, I think it takes a special courage for the writer to dare to see things differently and forage ahead despite the 120 people who've come before and said, "Not for me." Maybe these unenthusiastic responses are the spark that ignites the storyteller, motivated by the challenge to prove them all wrong.

It worked for Mr. Pirsig. And, it worked for me, too.

When you write today, find the courage within and protect it. Someday, that spark could be a 3 million copy raging inferno.

Music::Don't Make Me by Blake Shelton

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