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.


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.