Friday, November 4, 2011

"Life Isn't Fair" Motto Isn't Just For Kids

My former critique group member, Kim Van Sickler, is in the query trenches right now, so I knew she'd have something spot on to say in this guest post (below).

Take it away, KIM:

A friend of mine sent around an e-mail that's supposedly advice Bill Gates gave to a high school class about things he never learned in school. I opened it today. The advice struck a chord with me but it didn't sound like Gates, so I Snopes-checked it and found out it didn't come from him. The real author is Charles J. Sykes, who wrote, Fifty Rules Kids Won't Learn in School: Real-World Antidotes to Feel-Good Education

No matter. I really like the first ELEVEN RULES and promptly posted them in the Note section of my Facebook page with the proper attribution. (Kim, my favorite rule is #11)

Then I started wondering why I was so gung ho about these rules. It didn't take me long to figure it out. I mean, yes, I did just have a blow-out argument with my thirteen-year-old daughter last night over her infuriating habit of ignoring me as I'm trying to rush us out the door, my college-student son is majoring in partying, and both kids plus all my stepkids think I'm incredibly "unchill." But that wasn't it.

No. It was because yesterday I finally e-mail-queried ten agents about my mermaid novel, Beached. (SIDE NOTE: Kim's writing is the bomb and her book is GOOD) And today I'd already received four e-mails saying they weren't interested in reading it. And while two of them were polite blanket rejections, and one was a flat out admission that the agency wasn't taking on any mermaid books right now, one was a chillingly blunt refusal. "No, thank you," it read.

At least it said, "thank you." (SIDE NOTE: I've gotten those before too. *POUTY FACE*)

In an era where our society bombards us with commercials, entertainment, and self-help gurus telling us that we're "special" and "worth it", how do we deal with the failure that all of us ultimately encounter?

Do we give up? Wallow in it? Or pick ourselves up and keep going? (GO, KIM, GO)

I got into this writing business wanting to see my books published. And since I'm looking at traditional publishing right now, that means I've got to keep plugging along. Every writer will tell you it's hard work, and that the only way to succeed is to persevere through the rejections.

This list isn't just for ungrateful kids. In some form or another, it's to all of us. (Did you read the eleven rules?)

Thank you, Kim! I am SO rooting for you!

***Kim blogs over at SWAGGER, with seven other writers in various stages of publication. They are just getting up and running, so if you have time, say hi or go follow!



Christine Danek said...

Thanks Kim. This is very inspiring and I need lots of it. This isn't an easy "business", but I love doing it. Sounds strange. The picture at the top says it all--one day.
Thanks Christina for hosting.

Stina said...

LOL And you, Christina, are eagerly waiting to push me out the door into the querying world. Kim just reminded me why I'm happy staying cozy inside my writing house. :D

Kelly Polark said...

I love those rules! Will print them out for my 12 year old who thinks he's such a smarty pants! ;) (Well, he is off the charts intelligent, but he thinks he should be treated like an adult - at 12!)

Kelly Polark said...

I love those rules! Will print them out for my 12 year old who thinks he's such a smarty pants! ;) (Well, he is off the charts intelligent, but he thinks he should be treated like an adult - at 12!)

Kim Van Sickler said...

Thanks, gals! Stina, it may be warm and cozy inside your writing house, but think of the adventures that may be awaiting you outside! Plus you can always come back inside for breaks.

Matthew MacNish said...


Slamdunk said...

Nicely done Kim. Rejection in any part of life is unnerving to say the least.

For those who are tenacious in following their dream, the award ceremony will be that much more enjoyable.

Laura Pauling said...

Me not like querying trenches at all! And it's frustrating hitting the downside of a trend! Hope you find an agent that falls in love!

Lourie said...

How cool a mermaid book! I think the rules need to be updated just a tad, but they are great.

Christina Lee said...

Great support here for Kim, thx everybody! True, Lourie, but still applicable! :D

Creepy Query Girl said...

Oh kim, I am so there! Just keep swimming as they say! That's all we can do!

Kim Van Sickler said...

That's quite a name you've got CQG. Very memorable. So I gather you do have some querying experience. Thanks for following us on Swagger CQG and Matthew! Matthew, you really made Jon happy! Thanks for the encouragement Slamdunk, Laura, Lourie, and as always, my ray of sunshine in the dark underbelly of queryland, Christine.

Meredith said...

Ugh, rejections are the worst. But I guess it teaches us to develop thick skin, right? So there's that. :) Great post!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

First off, I want to say that I read your post this morning, but didn't have time to comment because I needed to get to work.

An hour or so later, I announced to my class of fifth graders what work we'd be doing in class today. They groaned. "But it's Friday," they wheedled.

I looked at them flatly. "Friday is a work day," I said. They gave me a confused look. They didn't get my point.

At that point, I was sorely tempted to throw this blog -- and the 11 rules -- up on the projector screen. I didn't do it because a) my school network blocks all blogs because the tech department hasn't embraced the potential of blogging and b) I might have gotten complaints from parents.

After all, this attitude of entitlement, leisure, and lack of ambition had to come from somewhere.

Stick with it, Kim, and never forget that what looks like a failure might actually be a better opportunity opening later -- as long as you are willing to keep working.

Lydia Kang said...

Go Kim! I've gotten rejections that sound exactly like yours. Here's hoping that you find that perfect agent.

Those eleven rules are great. I agree, I'm not as into the last three--especially the one about piercings and tattoos. Not that big of deal, I think. :)

Amie Kaufman said...

Wow, those rules are a kick in the butt -- in a good way! Needed, from time to time.

Don't let the rejections get you down. Every body gets them, without exception, and they just mean you're on the road to finding the right agent!

Beth said...

It is SO hard, isn't it? I think you're doing exactly what we have to do, which is pick ourselves up and keep trying. Good luck!