Being tenacious, hanging on when everything and everyone tells you to stop, is an important personality trait for writers. Without tenacity, how would any of us survive the barrage of rejection slips that come our way with each new project?
Of course, when tenacity becomes pure pigheadedness, that’s the time to LET GO.
Three years ago, I wrote a book called Cinemabibliomaximus, which can best be described as a rather long and experimental novel that topped out at about 175,000 words. When I’d received enough rejection slips to consider writing another book, The Writer’s Guide to Complete and Utter Rejection, which would have been a compilation of all the rejection letters I’d received, I decided to LET GO.
Kind of. Sort of.
Perhaps if I just changed the title and dropped the plot line that agents couldn’t seem to follow, then I’d have success. Surely, I reasoned, that would make the novel a sure-fire bestseller, right? I quickly donned my Captain Tenacious cape and set to work, carving away 70,000 words and a dozen characters. What emerged was a new novel, Outtake, which focused on a new way of promoting a book and its follow-on film. Let me just say, it was brilliant.
And let me just say, every agent had the same reaction: “WTF?”
Even so, Captain Tenacious held his ground, reaping the whirlwind of rejection until he had to just LET GO.
But not entirely.
Captain Tenacious knew in his heart that there was yet another book at the core of Outtake, namely a witty and delightful mystery sure to please every agent, a book that would set him on the path to a Nobel.
And yet the resulting book, now just 90,000 words and renamed Skeleton: A Bare Bones Mystery, was only slightly less repulsive to the agents. On the other hand, several agents actually read the entire manuscript and had good things to say about the writing. But each thought the market was “too tough” to take on my book. So Captain Tenacious decided to just LET GO.
In a way.
After spending so much time on my book, which had become a trifecta of rejection, I decided to self-publish it as an e-book. And things have actually gotten better. Four out of five people seem to love the e-book, giving it 5-star reviews. And the 70% royalties have been creating some nice monthly checks. Gotta love that.
Most important, though, by finally LETTING GO, I’ve been able to finish another novel (a paranormal mystery called Flicker) that had been left on the sidelines, 20,000 words short of completion, for three years.
Captain Tenacious knows the agents will love this one. But if they don’t, well, another novel will follow that one, and another after that. So take a lesson from Captain Tenacious, and just LET GO.