I don’t fear rejection, I’m used to rejection. I’m familiar with the sensation that rejection brings. The stomach sinking, tears in your eyes, fists in the air type of feeling that I’ve experienced too many times to count. I’m an expert when it comes to rejection. I expect rejection.
I fear success.
I dream of success but the thought of it actually happening terrifies me. I have grown so accustomed to living life in a little corner of the universe that the idea of stepping out from the shadows to share with the world my imagination makes my heart pound faster than normal. What if my dream came true? Could I handle it?
I’ve never been on a plane. What if I did make it, would I be able to jet off to another state to promote my book or do author signings? Could I face that fear?
I have feared success most of my life. It’s a weird fear to have because there is no guarantee that it can be faced.
My fear of boarding a plane can be conquered. I can book a flight today to face this fear. But, there is no guarantee that one will become successful. Being successful means different things to everyone. For me, success would be becoming a well-known author with many published books. This may never happen and if it doesn’t, I can never face the fear.
Yes, I fear success. The thought of it makes my stomach turn and causes my palms to sweat, but the fear of never finding success may be worse.
Do you fear success?
Do you have problems conveying your characters emotions? Do you find that whenever your character is happy, you simply write that they “smiled?” Does Sally (your main character) pout when she’s sad or yell when she’s mad? There is so much more to those emotions than a smile, a pout or a burst of expletives.
When I began submitting my novel to agents for consideration, I kept getting partial and full requests but then the rejections followed. The rejections almost always included something positive like (great plot, very imaginative, good writing, etc.) but often ended with I’m not connecting with the character. I couldn’t understand the rejections. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong or how to correct it. But then one day, it hit me. My main character was flat; the emotions were not built up enough to make a reader want to follow her on her journey.
Now that I knew what was wrong, I had to learn how to fix it. So, when I was on Twitter one day and saw someone tweet about The Emotion Thesaurus, my curiosity was piqued. I told my critique partner about the book and she surprised me and purchased the book for herself and me (pretty awesome right?).
This book has helped me immensely and deserves a plug. The authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are both writers and together host The Bookshelf Muse, an online resource for writers.
I thought this book was all I needed until I recently discovered that they have additional books such as The Negative Trait Thesaurus and The Positive Trait Thesaurus. I’m currently combing through my manuscript and beefing up my character with the help of these amazing books. I’m hoping the rejections turn into more requests that turn into offers rather than rejections.
Do you struggle with writing about emotions? What emotion do you have the most difficult time tapping into?
Do you have any books that you refer to when building up your character?
This coming June will be four years that I have been living without my father. My father was such a wonderful man. He was everything I aspire to be. He treated all people the same. He was well respected, intelligent, wise, simple and extremely loving. During his illness, my family and I traveled to Philadelphia to support him while he underwent open heart surgery. The night before he went into surgery, I read him my favorite poem by E.E. Cummings I Carry Your Heart with Me. I will forever carry his heart. He was my biggest cheerleader when it came to writing. He was the first one to believe in me. I believe he is on the other side pulling as many strings as he can to help further my career.
I Carry Your Heart with Me by E.E. Cummings
I carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
Do you have a favorite poem? Who does it remind you of?
If you have been watching the news you should have seen the devastation that poured through my hometown and all surrounding towns this past weekend. Yes, Northeastern Pennsylvania watched in horror as the floods swept away homes (my sister-in-law’s was one of them), flooded streets and brought people to their knees. Our bridges were closed. We had curfews. I myself sat on the only open bridge for an hour and a half trying to make it home to my family. I felt as if I was on the set of a movie. It was surreal. It was inspiring?
As I watched the news something the reporter said initially struck me as odd. She was talking about how people just couldn’t help but go out and see what was happening. “It was like viewing a car wreck,” she said. “You know you shouldn’t look but you just can’t help it”. She then went on to say a situation like this was inspiring. Inspiring? At first I felt a little offended (I know the writer in me should have immediately knew what she meant) but because everything was so close to home (Literally. The only thing that saved my street was a makeshift dike built out of dirt by a bunch of heroes) I didn’t like that she used that word. To me, inspiring meant beauty. The word itself even sounds pretty. It couldn’t relate to something horrible, or could it? Of course it can.
As I thought about her broadcast my flooded mind receded and my thoughts became clearer. I began to understand exactly what she meant. Something horrible can be inspiring. Devastation like the one my town recently endured inspired many things. It inspired communities to rally together to help save homes. It inspired newspapers to share heartbreaking stories. It inspired photographers to snap photos so we can remember and others will be able to see history. It inspired me to write this blog.
Writers don’t only write about sunny days and perfect lives. If you want to write about the human experience you have to be able to be inspired by things not so pretty. How boring would books be if there was never sorrow or obstacles to overcome?
Because we observe unhappy situations and then later write about them does not mean that we are freaks or disaster lovers, it simply means that we are interested in writing about life experiences. I am not happy that the flood happened. It saddens me that so many people I know had to suffer. I don’t find joy in writing about their pain but in a strange way I do feel inspired.
Have you ever been inspired by an unfortunate event?