So it’s time once again for my ramblings on the craft of writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, or #IWSG. I didn’t end up writing anything for January or February (bad me), even tho I’m supposed to write something on the first Wednesday of every month. They didn’t kick me out of the club (hooray!), so I’m still blog #187. Not that the number matters.
Being a Sick Person means that time sorta runs together, and before I knew it, the first Wednesday of January had gone by, and then the first Wednesday of February was gone too. Shame on me. However, I’m actually writing this in mid-February, to get ready. I’m sure I’ll be reading and re-reading and writing and re-writing this post up until I hit the green ‘publish’ button on March 2.
So the big secret I have decided to impart for this post?
Yes, that is the handsome Westley telling his love, Princess Buttercup, that bit of wisdom.
If you’re not aware (did you grow up in a barn? hee hee), Westley and Princess Buttercup are the main characters in the timeless classic The Princess Bride, a movie from 1987, which is based on a book from 1977. A book and movie which I personally a.dore. Totally.
So what does disappointment have to do with us, today, in our writing paths?
Well, seriously. Get used to it.
It took a decade for The Princess Bride to be made into a movie. It is reported in numerous places that the book author thought his baby would never be made into a movie.
I have no idea how long it took the author to write the book, or how long it took to be published, but you can be sure, it was no quick happening.
AND, more importantly, not everyone loves it as I do.
There are 89 1-star reviews of the movie. (Most of them idiots complaining about the product, not the movie itself.) But then there’s this gem:
It is difficult to even give this one star. I absolutely hated this movie. I do not enjoy the “Monty Python type of humor”, as I refer to it. I think it’s stupid, humorless, and just downright frustrating.
I’ve had to sit/sleep/complain my way through this thing two times more than I should have. I can’t comprehend why so many people find this sort of low-brow humor amusing. … The quality of direction sort of reminds me of something I could have done with a home video camera, a bath tub, and a couple of toy boats.
And then there’s the book itself, with 61 1-star reviews.
So? You are probably asking yourself. I’m not writing The Princess Bride. I’m writing the Next Great American Novel.
So what if you are?
Even if you are indeed writing that tome, there is no guarantee that people will like it.
Take To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s major (some would argue, only) tome. It currently has 6,797 reviews on Amazon, 174 of which are only 1-star.
Please don’t flog me, dear readers, but I personally do not like To Kill A Mockingbird. I just… don’t. Just like I don’t like sushi, am not a fan of things most people are fans of (ex. college football), and I love Zoolander (the first one. Can’t convince myself to spend money to see the second one in theaters. And yes, I know it’s super stupid.). (And P.S. It has 1,197 reviews; and coincidentally, also 174 1-star reviews.)
Again, you’re probably wondering my point.
My point is: not everyone will like your work. There is no guarantee that even your mama will love what you write. (Mine happens to looooove my book, in case you’re wondering.)
Even Madeleine L’Engle, whose most famous work is A Wrinkle In Time, almost gave up writing (according to this interesting post on Mental Floss). Before she wrote Wrinkle. And when she did, it got rejected numerous times.
So… you have to develop thick skin. You have to get used to disappointment. You may get rejected 200 times, like famous Western author Louis L’Amour did. You could possibly paper a room in your house with the rejections you’ve received. (And the list of job titles that can reject your work is … rather long.)
And then, and then, IF you put your work out there (however you do it), not everyone will like what you write.
Your work might get accepted by … something/one or other … and then the editor wants you to change something you’ve written. And the way they tell you could be waaaay worse than the actual changes. (True story.)
You may have readers give your work 1-stars. (Tho that’s really a badge of honor – that someone hated your work so much they bothered to leave a 1-star review.)
There are any number of ways that your work, your baby, your story, your pride and joy, that you sweated over, cried over, had sleepless nights over, could be dissed.
Get used to it.
Putting your work out there takes a massive dose of courage, so good on you. Gird your loins, get used to disappointment, and keep writing and keep submitting.
Yours in Insecure Writing,