Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sink or Publish: It’s All How You See Adversity by Zoe McCarthy

Zoe McCarthy
Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course. — William Shakespeare

For many writers, adversity means something less than illness or loss. Adversity might mean:

  • A bulging folder of rejection letters. When everyone has left for school and work, we feed the letters one-by-one into the garbage disposal, using our tears in lieu of the faucet. We shut down Scrivener on our laptop and contact Brainy Quotes to see if they could use a quote on rejection.
  • Too many low contest scores. We want to know why always two judges think our submissions stink and one judge loves them. Back to the disposal.
  • Critiques from our critique partners, bleeding red from track changes. What happened to just fixing the commas we signed on for?
  • Jabs from our spouse about changing out of our PJs before noon and doing some housework before we spend the day on our hobby. We shuffle our slippers over to the kitchen trash can and lift the lid. Humpf. When will our spouse take the trash out before he leaves to hold a pole over the lake all day?

I suggest we embrace the above difficulties and keep stroking though the waves.

Embrace Rejections.

Agent Chip MacGregor has said it takes four completed books to learn to write, and writers usually get a contract on the fifth. I was writing book five when I heard this. I kept on swimming, and my fifth book was contracted.

I know now why editors rejected those four books. But each successive book got better. My rejection letters got better too. Editors made suggestions and offered to review other projects. Today, I’d be embarrassed if those four books had been published.

Instead of destroying my garbage disposal, I believed I could do better on the next book. I attended workshops, read books on the craft, joined critique groups, and entered contests.

Embrace Contest Feedback.

After I read the feedback, I swallowed hard, and put it aside for a day. I believed the judges weren’t against me. So the next day, I made myself “listen” to each remark. I considered even the inconsistencies between judges as valuable. Would revamping or removing the sentence one judge liked and another didn’t hurt the story?

Embrace Bleeding Critiques.

The worst critiques I’ve received contained only grammar and spelling fixes. My current critique partner cares about my story. We agreed on thick skins. We became partners while I wrote published book five. My motto: If something stopped her reading, I will address what she marked.

Embrace Your Spouse.

I have a supportive husband. The only smart remark he makes is when I want something, like the round robot vacuum cleaner at COSTCO. He says, “Sell the movie rights on your book.” So, embrace your unsupportive spouse—then head for your laptop. He’ll understand better after you sign a contract.

What difficulties try to pull you under?

About the Author
Calculated Risk
by Zoe McCarthy
Zoe M. McCarthy believes the little known fact that opposites distract. Thus, she spins inspirational contemporary romances entangling extreme opposites. Her tagline is “Distraction to Attraction, Magnetic Romances Between Opposites.” Calculated Risk, Zoe’s debut novel, will be available November 21, 2014. Christian Fiction Online Magazine published two of her short stories. Zoe enjoys leading workshops on the craft of writing, speaking about her faith, planning fun events for her 5 grandchildren, and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she lives with her husband, John.

Website:
http://www.zoemmccarthy.com

Calculated Risk
Jilted by the latest of her father’s choices of “real men,” Cisney Baldwin rashly accepts an invitation to spend Thanksgiving weekend with a sympathetic colleague and his family. Nick LeCrone is a man too much her opposite to interest her and too mild-mannered to make her overbearing father’s “list.” Now, Cisney fears Nick wants to take advantage of her vulnerable state over the holiday. Boy, is she wrong.

9 comments:

  1. Love your sense of humor, Zoe! It takes me a few days (months?) to embrace rejection letters. But you're so right about rereading the comments with a mindset to "listen." That helps. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dora, I've been doing devotional Streams in the Desert (Cowan) this year and now at year's almost end, I'm beginning to think I should tell the Lord to bring it on so I can grow. In case He's listening, I'm NOT asking, just saying maybe I should.

      Delete
  2. I'm one of those who loves a good critique. Bring on the red! :) Yes, it can be disheartening, but I find that, even if I don't agree with a suggestion, I give it a great deal of thought and it usually leads to me changing what I have for the better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sandra, Sometimes it takes a day or two after I've made the changes prompted my a critique to fully appreciate how much better the scene is.

      Delete
  3. Hi Zoe, busy day and I'm just now getting to read the blog. Rejection can be awful! But I truly believe there are times it is God's will and we may not understand why until later. I experienced that this year.

    Love your positive attitude! I may need to call you when I get my next rejection.

    By the way your genre costume at ACFW was perfect!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Terri, I don't know if it's all my positive attitude or I just can't afford to replace the disposal. I appreciate your comment on the costume. I decided to wear it to my events. You affirmed my decision. Thanks!

      Delete
  4. Zoe, I think you were reading my journal when you wrote this post. It's great to hear I'm not the only one who goes through these things. Nothing gets me more bothered than my husbands comments about spending money to attend another conference to support my hobby. You are right. He'll understand when I sign that contact. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tammy, although I have a very supportive husband (he does the laundry, grocery shopping, and vacuuming so I can write), I have heard so many writers talk about how they struggle with families that have a hard time seeing their vision. Keep on plugging, Tammy.

      Delete
  5. Great post, Zoe, and I love the way you bring humor to a painful situation. A spoonful of sugar...
    I have a great critique partner and a supportive husband. I've had health problems and family needs that leave little time or energy for writing. I keep singing, "Soon and very Soon." I'm not giving up!

    ReplyDelete

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!