As part of the Monster blog tour, the extremely talented author, CJ Skuse, gives us lots to think about when she defines rejection.
There’s no real art to rejection. Each one is like a little shot of grief; a bereavement. The loss of a dream. And all authors experience it, both before and after becoming published. The only difference is that after, it’s because of the writer you are, rather than the writer you could be. Once you’re published, you don’t just get to be turned down by agents or publishers – now it’s film companies, magazines, newspapers, bloggers, even whole countries. Then there’s the negative Amazon and Goodreads reviews which hang around like screen smudges long after your book’s release. In short, rejection never ends. That’s something I was never told when I had my strange little dream about seeing my book on a Waterstones shelf.
But if I’d known, would I have carried on pursuing that dream? Probably.
I’ve come to expect rejection now, five books along. Any award longlist I’m on, I’m candid about my crap chances. Any book I release, I don’t ever ask for sales figures. I’ve skidded on so many banana skins in my short career, I actively look for them now. It’s a sad state of affairs but I’m a sad state of a person so it works for me.
If you’re not very good with rejection though, there is a way of avoiding it. You could write something very similar to a bestseller and in doing so, ride its wave of popularity. You could rub shoulders with a few high profile names, beg some endorsements and allow their snappy blurbs to deflect the bullets of those who would not be forthcoming with praise otherwise. Or you could just stop writing altogether. Admit defeat. Admit you’re not as good as so-and-so, not as popular as this-and-that, not as bang on trend as Tom, Dick or J.K. Go back to the day job.
In short: you could give up.
There is another way though. And this is my way.
Develop a hardened carapace of I Don’t Give a Shit. Carry on hoeing the row you’ve set out to. Hold fast to that little flame of passion, that hunger you started out with and take it as far as you dare. Any bad review that comes along, hold up your shield of steel and deflect it away. Any country who doesn’t want to publish you – say It’s their loss. Know your own value. Take trusted professional editorial advice and redraft until your laptop bleeds. Make your stories better; those same stories that burn your synapses and make your heart ache.
Most importantly of all, hold on tightly to those people who love what you do, who routinely read what you do and who regularly tell you so. These are the things that matter - the passion, the plots, the people. I’m at the stage where I’m writing for these people, as well as just myself. I want to write better stories for them – my audience. The ones who just ‘get me.’ I’m not good enough to deserve them really, if I’m honest. But I will be. I try and make every book better than the last in some way.
That’s the attitude you have to take if you want to get around rejection. “You have to learn how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.” Ray Bradbury said that. I rejected this advice when I first became published. I didn’t think I would ever get rejected again. I accept now that he was absolutely right.
At sixteen Nash thought that the fight to become Head Girl of prestigious boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle she’d face. Until her brother’s disappearance leads to Nash being trapped at the school over Christmas with Bathory’s assorted misfits. As a blizzard rages outside, strange things are afoot in the school’s hallways, and legends of the mysterious Beast of Bathory – a big cat rumoured to room the moors outside the school – run wild. Yet when the girls’ Matron goes missing it’s clear that something altogether darker is to blame – and that they’ll have to stick together if they hope to survive.
To find out more about C.J. Skuse: