The 5 Stages of Rejection Grief

Rejection.  

All writers go through it. Yet not all writers
recognize there is a real grieving process when we receive those rejections. I
didn’t realize it myself until one really tough rejection that knocked me so
hard it had me reeling through the 5 stages of grief.

It started when my writing mentor told me to scrap my 50,000
word WIP and start over. I was shocked.
Sure, I knew my WIP needed help, but to trash six months of writing. She
had to be mistaken. I slipped quickly into denial. Maybe a better term for that news was “shock and awe” because
I was paralyzed for an entire weekend. I couldn’t think, let alone apply any of
the great teaching my mentor gave me to my current WIP which was technically
dead to me at the moment.
After the anxiety of the weekend wore
off, I went through a mixture of anger,
bargaining,
and depression. I
don’t remember the anger stage being strong, but the depression was
incapacitating at times! I couldn’t write or even read. What was the point! My
story was dead, and I wasn’t about to try and read someone else’s story while I
was grieving.
Then came the bargaining. Maybe, just maybe I could salvage
the WIP. So I tried writing my historical romance in first person. I only got
113 words written before depression set in again, and I realized it was useless.
If I turned my WIP into women’s fiction as my mentor suggested, it would be a
totally different story with a different feel and plot. Which was okay, but
something I didn’t have the energy to do. After all, I was still grieving.
So I started revisiting an old idea, close to my heart that
I’d been afraid to write. First, I reread the seven pages, the only pages I’d
written. My heart stirred. I felt new life coming back into my soul. So I read
it again, and edited just a few lines and added a few more. Could I do this? I wasn’t
sure, but I knew I needed some encouragement so I sent it out to some trustworthy
friends. They confirmed I should be working on the story. And I did, but not
before I allowed myself to grieve the lost of a WIP.
Rejection is not easy, but sooner or later if you’re a
serious writer and put your stuff out there, you will experience rejection. The
key to surviving it without taking down those around you is to recognize that a
writing rejection requires a grieving process and each person needs to feel it
and deal with it in their own time. But also know the only way to get past it
is to sit back down and write. 
No matter how long it takes.

Gina Conroy, a.k.a. “the other Gina,” is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket. She’s the founder of Writer…Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012 with her second novel Digging Up Death recently contracted with Stonehouse Ink.

Author Interview ~ Beth Vogt

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor
who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force
family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry
a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said
she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often
waits behind the doors marked “Never.”

Her inspirational
contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here, debuted May 2012 (Howard Books.) Her second
novel, Catch a Falling Star, releases May 2013. Beth is an established
magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International.
Tell
us a bit about your current project.
Wish You Were Here asks the question “Can the wrong kiss lead to
Mr. Right?” The novel tells the story of what happens when a woman
kisses her fiancé’s brother five days before the wedding. Which is
the mistake? The kiss? Or the wedding?

We are all about journeys…unique ones at that. How convoluted was
your path to your first published book? Share some highlights or lowlights
from your path to publication. 
The first book
I ever published was a non-fiction book about late-in-life motherhood, Baby Changes
Everything (Revell 2007.) For years, I said I would never writer
fiction – I was quite content staying on my side of the writing road.
And then I hit a season of burnout when I told my husband I would never
write another word – ever, ever, ever. He came home three days later
to find me at the computer … um, writing. When he asked me about my
vow to never write again (ever, ever, ever), I told him that what I
was doing didn’t count. I was just having fun, playing around with
an idea for a novel. No one would ever see it. That “just for fun”
idea became Wish You Were Here. God used burnout to redirect my life –
and allow me to see a whole new dream come true.
Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work, or struggle
in a particular area such as writers block or angst driven head-banging
against walls? Please share some helpful overcoming hints that you’ve
discovered.
Self-doubt wants
to tag along on this journey, kind of like an unwelcome, invisible companion.
The best way to overcome self-doubt is to surround myself with my “security
net” of friends – both writers and non-writers. These friends (including
my husband) speak truth to me when I’m up on a ledge and want to jump
off. They point me back to who I am in God’s eyes and they help me
to shake off the self-doubt.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication? Or to narrow
it down further what’s something you wish you’d known earlier that
might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?
That idea that
you’re going to get it all done one day? It’s not going to happen.
And comparing
yourself to someone else? Don’t go there. You walk your journey along
the writing road and let them walk their journey. If your paths cross,
cheer them on.
What is your favorite source for finding story ideas?
I love weaving
real life into my novels. Often story ideas are prompted by questions
that I’ve faced and found answers to – or maybe not. 
I like letting fictional characters wrestle with the issues we face
in the real world. I also love mulling over the question, “What if?” 
and getting together with other writers and brainstorming story ideas.
Have you ever had one of those awkward writer moments you’d like
to share with us, the ones wherein you get “the look” from
the normals? Example, you stand at a knife display at the sporting goods
store and ask the clerk which would be the best to use to disembowel
a six foot man…please do tell.

At one time I thought Wish You Were Here was going to be a romantic suspense. Long
story short: That was a rookie writer’s attempt to ramp up tension.
Several years ago, during my youngest daughter’s spring break, we
drove through Rocky Mountain National Park trying to find the best place
for a confrontation – complete with a car going over the edge of a
cliff. We were marking spots on a map of the park. I kept thinking: If the teacher asks
the class what they did during spring break, what will my daughter say?
“We tried to figure out how to kill somebody?”

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?
 
That time is relative in the writing world? That waiting is mandatory?
That authors must market themselves? That social media is essential
– and can pull me away from my work-in-progress … Oh, sorry. You
only asked for one pet peeve.
Share a dream or something you’d love to accomplish through your writing
career.
I am thankful
to say I’ve accomplished more than I ever dreamed of as a writer.
But one thing I hope to do in the future is encourage other writers
– to help them achieve their dreams. I saw my dreams come true
because of others coming alongside me and helping me. I want to do the
same. 
What gives you the greatest writer buzz, makes the trip worth the
hassles (besides coffee or other substances, or course)?
Relationships
with other writers. We “get” each other, you know? And connecting
with another writer, talking deadlines and elevator pitches and successes
and “try again” moments – all of this has enriched my life so,
so much.

Describe your special or favorite writing spot or send a picture if
you’d like.
I have three-quarters
of an office that is all mine. Or maybe it’s more like four-fifths.
It’s large enough for two desks, and so the second desk is where my
youngest daughter does homework or where my husband pays bills. But
the office is mine – painted the way I like, with my favorite photos
and sayings and mementos on the wall. 
What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?
I grab a new copy
of The
Book Buddy, written by best-selling author Susan May Warren.
It’s an amazing work-text that helps me map out my story – everything
from my theme and Story Question, to my characters and my subplots,
to my key scenes. By the time I’m done working through “Buddy,”
I’ve plotted out enough to begin writing my fast draft.
Have you discovered any successful marketing/promo ideas that you’d
share with us?

I had the absolutely
delightful experience of being part of the “Debs” with three
other authors who debuted in May: Dani Pettrey, Katie Ganshert and Olivia
Newport. We joined together to encourage one another months before our
books launched. Then Rel of Relz Reviewz and Kelli Standish – who
is amazing with web design and all the “techy” stuff – coordinated
a live online launch party for us. Our publishers – Howard Books,
Bethany, Waterbrook and Revell – supported our combo launch party.
We also highlighted Heart of the Bride, a ministry that provides for
the needs of orphans worldwide.

Parting
words? Anything you wish we would’ve asked because you’ve got the
perfect answer?
So … what about the llamas? Wish You Were Here is a bit quirky, in that it has a trio of
llamas incorporated in the storyline. People often ask “What’s up
with the llamas?” I have my husband, Rob, to thank for that. Whenever
I would hit a wall and not know what to write next, he would say, “Is
this when the aliens come in?” I always told him I wasn’t writing
that kind of novel. One day while we were in Estes Park (yes, the same
time we were trying to figure out how to kill someone off in the book)
we saw some llamas. And my husband asked, “Well, how about putting
llamas in your book?”
That suggestion made me laugh – and I agreed.

5 Common Mistakes New Writers Make

Maybe you’re like me when I was a new writer. I
wrote my heart out, not giving any attention to the “rules” of writing. Frankly,
I didn’t know there were rules. It wasn’t until I finished my first novel and submitted it to an editor, and got rejected that I realized
there were a million things I didn’t know about writing a novel. That’s when I
decided to learn the “rules” of writing and discovered I was not alone in the
mistakes I made.
Too
Much Backstory
Everyone falls in love with their characters, and we
want everyone to know everything about them so they can fall in love with them
too. But what new writers don’t realize is that you don’t have to tell a
character’s entire backstory to hold a reader’s interest. In fact, the less you
tell up front, the more intrigued your reader may be about your character.
So what if you have a bunch of backstory? That’s okay for now. Sometimes writers have
to get to know their characters before than can tell their story. So
let the words flow. Just remember you will have to go back and do some editing.
Then once you know your character’s story, ask yourself  “What is the most important thing about my
character the reader needs to know NOW to understand my character’s action.” Include
that piece of information and then later look for ways to weave in your
character’s history instead of explaining it all at once in narrative. How do you do that?
You can show your character’s history through her
present actions. Did something happen in her past to make her angry or cynical?
Did something happen to cause her to have a bad relationship with a friend or
family member? Resist the Urge to explain (RUE) why a character is acting the
way she’s acting and just show it. Then as the story progresses you can drop
little nuggets of information, one liners, or subtle comments through dialogue
or internal thought to give the reader a HINT at her backstory. If you drop all
the information about your character up front, the mystery and intrigue will be
gone, and your reader will be bored and not want to turn the page.
Improper
Use of POV or Head Hopping
Many new writers like to get inside the head of
every character, but this can be confusing to the reader. The basic rule is to
tell the story through the eyes of one character during a certain scene or
chapter. The character whose eyes you see through is called the POV character
and when you write action or description, you only write what that character
sees and feels. Think of it like looking through a camera lens. Whatever your
character sees through the lens is what you have them see in your story. That
means they can’t see when someone
sneaks up behind them, but they may be able to hear footsteps or smell a
distinct odor as the person approaches. This also applies to emotions. You
can’t know what every character thinks or feels. Just the thoughts and feelings
of your POV character. Yes, some writers break the rules, and it works. But
usually not for new writers.
Telling
Emotions Instead of Showing
Though many new writers may have a good grasp of showing
the actions in a scene instead of telling, most still have difficulty showing
emotions. Instead of naming the emotions, writers can show the emotion in an
action beat by researching how that emotion is displayed physically and
viscerally. So a better way to convey to your reader that a character is angry
is to show him being angry instead of telling the reader the character is
angry. No one likes to be told how to feel. The same is true with the reader.
If you allow the reader to feel your character’s emotions instead of telling
them, it will make for a richer reading experience.
Not
Enough Conflict
Once your character starts her journey toward her
goal, there should be conflict, preferably on every page. But remember conflict
comes in many forms. There’s internal conflict which stems from opposing goals,
dreams, fears, insecurities, and past mistakes. There’s relational conflict
where another character causes problems (external or internal) for the main
character. And there is external conflict that comes from outside the
character. Conflict is anything that slows the journey of your character and
makes it more difficult (yet not impossible) for them to reach the end of their
journey. And conflict is what drives a story and makes a reader turn the page.
No
Story Structure
Instead of thinking of story structure as a bunch of
rules you have to follow, think of it as destination stops on the way to where
you want to go. If you were taking a cross country trip, there would be certain
places you’d stop. This is the basis of story structure. But how you get to
those different places has endless possibilities. For example, you can start in
New York and drive to Philadelphia. Then you can take a plane to Dallas, take a
bus to Oklahoma city and maybe rent a motorcycle for the rest of your journey.  Not so structured, now is it?
Though many writers start out making these writing
mistakes, learning the rules of good writing isn’t hard. Are there times
writers break these rules? Yes, and it can work, especially when you have a
reason for breaking the rules and know why you’re doing it. But to do that, new
writers should learn and the “rules” to great writing. 
Gina Conroy, a.k.a. “the other Gina,” is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket. She’s the founder of Writer…Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012 with her second novel Digging Up Death recently contracted with Stonehouse Ink.