This column appeared in the January/February 2010 issue of “Word Weaver.”
As a freelance writer, I’ve had to develop a thick skin over the years, which accounts for my weight problem. In reality, I’m thin – but my skin weighs heavy. OK, OK – it was worth a try. I weigh what I weigh because Miss Vickie and Sarah Lee are my idols, and my idea of exercise is moving around piles of paper in my office so it looks like I’m filing.
Having said that, I stand by my guns when it comes to promoting a thick skin for writers. We all want to be adored by the reading public, but the truth is that no writer is beloved of everyone. Not even Shakespeare, which is hard to believe, because who wouldn’t love a guy who comes up with phrases like bawdy addlepated flax-wench and gleeking toad-spotted maggot-pie?
The earlier you get used to the fact that different writing voices appeal to different readerships, the better. It’s best to not take it personally – we humans are a picky and fickle bunch. And when it comes to rejection, well, that’s where the thick skin helps the most. Chances are that the rejections you receive reflect how much space the editor has in the upcoming issue and what else she/he has on the desk in the way of submissions. Timing is everything, and unless you have ESP, you just have to send out your stuff and hope for the best. I know, I know – rejection hurts. But honestly, in time you accept it as part of the game and get on with your writing life.
The fact is, rejections won’t kill you, and being asked to change your words now and then by editors is part of the writing-editing-publishing process. As I always say, love your writing but avoid falling in love with it. You know – love is blind, rose-coloured glasses and all that cliché stuff that is so true in our lives. Have faith in yourself, and when the editing requests and rejections come, do what my friend Steve Bond advises: shut up and take it like a man.