Letting New Writers Down Gently

14 09 2012

adult hand helping child writeAs an editor, I often have the onerous task of writing rejection letters. Many newbie writers dash off their first novels in a few months. Then proud of their efforts, they pop them into envelopes or attach them to emails, positive they will soon have a book contract in hand. And many also expect to quit their day jobs once the book sells.

I sat across the table from one starry-eyed hopeful a few months ago who told me that she was spending all her after-work hours penning her middle grade book. “I can’t keep up this pace forever,” she confided. “It’ll be great once it sells. Then I can quit my teaching job and just write full time.”

If only… I struggled with what to say. Should I tell her the truth and dash her dreams? Or let the shock of rejection letters and the truth of royalty statements (should she be so lucky) knock her down later?

I opted for soft-pedaling the truth. “You know, many writers, even famous ones, needed to keep their day jobs even after they were published.”

She gave me a dubious look, and I could practically read her thoughts, That won’t be me.

I have never understood why people – who would never think they could pick up an instrument, spend a few months practicing, and debut with a symphony orchestra – think that they can sit down and write a best-selling novel.

I think F. Scott Fitzgerald explained things beautifully when he added this to the end of a letter he sent to a beginning writer:

P.S. I might say that the writing is smooth and agreeable and some of the pages very apt and charming. You have talent—which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point.

About these ads

Actions

Information

3 responses

14 09 2012
walktx

I’m shocked! You mean I’m not going to get rich and famous writing? LOL

14 09 2012
lje1

Oh, sorry. Didn’t mean to totally discourage you. ;-) I suspect you’ve probably already been through boot camp, though. Here’s hoping you’re one of those breakthrough writers who make millions.

15 09 2012
walktx

Thanks. I hope you are a great success also.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 436 other followers

%d bloggers like this: