Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Play It Dangerous

You've all heard it...

"One day you're in, and the next day you're out." -Project Runway
"This is the end of the road for you." -American Idol
"Sorry, but you're going home." -So You Think You Can Dance
What do these have in common with writing? We, as writers, go through this same thing every day.

It is called REJECTION.

I have noticed a common link between the people on the reality shows that get these rejections...

"Sorry. It was just too safe. You need to take a risk."
"Too safe, Dog. You need to step up and make it your own."
"You danced too safe. It was boring. I almost fell asleep."

Every time I see someone rejected on these shows, I know how they feel. I am brought to tears sometimes watching American Idol! But the judges are right. That's the real killer. If you don't stand out--if you play it safe--you won't make it. You have to be brave when you write. Take chances. Try new things. Play it dangerous!

Do you guys cry when you see other people get rejected? And what are you doing to make your work stand out?

Are you voracious enough to make it? Check out the Querytracker blog to find out!

39 comments:

Lydia Kang said...

Oh the pain of rejection. I can't watch those shows. I just think about what happens behind the scenes after they get booted off!

Charity Bradford said...

Yes, I cry when others are rejected. Luckily I share their joy when they achieve their dreams as well--often with tears again.

I hope that my work will stand out because I try to connect on an emotional level. I do my research so that things are believable, but it comes down to that connection with my reader that I strive to gain.

How will I know if I achieve it? I guess I need to finish and start querying. (terrified screaming and gnashing of teeth, while pulling out handfuls of hair) ;)

Elana Johnson said...

I can hardly watch American Idol anymore. Don't get me wrong, I still love it, but it's hard. The early rounds especially. I just can't handle the heartbreak of rejection, because I KNOW how they feel to want something so bad and not get it. You know?

And thanks for the linkage to my post on QT. I would bake you cookies if I lived closer. :)

Tere Kirkland said...

Hey, there can only be one winner. It doesn't make everyone who doesn't win a "loser". That's how I feel about querying. It only takes one agent to make you feel like a winner.

Staying positive in the face of rejection has gotten me this far!

Sydnee said...

Yeah, but then sometimes after playing it safe for too long, those same contestants do something wacky and crazy and unique. And you know how the judges respond? "That was too out there... you should've sung it like the original. You messed it up." ...what? Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Yes, we definitely should take the plunge instead of cowering on the shore, but... I think there's a balancing act involved. Don't be afraid to express yourself, but don't feel pressured to drastically change your style or view just because everyone else wants you to, either.

Jemi Fraser said...

I love Idol and SYTYCD - but I don't always watch the audition rounds - it's just toooooo hard. Rejection is NOT easy. I'm getting much better at taking risks though :)

Karen said...

One of the best critiques I ever received hit on this exact issue. They loved the voice, the style...told me to stop playing it so safe with my characters, go deeper.

Well said!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Thanks for the reminder! I've taken a chance with the voice in my historical fiction. Some have commented against it, but others love it. I think that's going to be the key to getting my book published.

At least I hope so!

Amy Tate said...

I cried one time when I got my hopes too high with an editor. But it helps to have a plan. Querytracker is an awesome site and it helps to send it right back out again. Somehow that makes me feel like I'm more in control even when I know I'm not!

KrysTros said...

I don't cry but I have to wonder what the judges see or hear that I don't b/c sometimes they praise the worst person and totally dog the best (in my eyes anyway). And the criticism is just weird. Nothing is constructive. Oh well, I used to live by the "Look before you leap" motto but I learned that sometimes you just gotta close your eyes and go for it!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Way to shake us up and get us thinking! I think I do play it too safe sometimes. I'm off to QT. Thanks! :-)

Girl with One Eye said...

I'm so new at the game, I'm not sure I'm taking a risk. But I'm trying to figure it out. I EXPECT to be rejected, a lot and I want to believe those who are strong enough to survive rejection and "keep moving forward" are the ones who succeed.

BTW, if you guys ever make it to southern California, let me know. I'd love to meet you guys. I'm jealous you hosted an authors thingy at your house. If you ever want to do one here I'd love to have a team of women writers over.

Ok, now that I've officially sounded creepy, I'm outta here. I only stalk a little.

dirtywhitecandy said...

Rejection is only half about you and your work; the other half is what everyone else is doing. The only thing you can do is hone your craft, listen to genuinely wise criticism - and be yourself.

Laura Pauling said...

I love watching Idol for the lessons I learn and how I can apply that toward writing. The singers that take a risk and are successful are the ones that have the skill and talent. When some try to take a risk and it comes across gimmicky and corny - it means they aren't quite there yet or it doesn't suit their voice. And if that doesn't apply to writing, I don't know what does.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I do get teary eyed when I see contestant being rejected. Sometimes I cry . . . hence why I don't watch them anymore. The funny thing is I don't cry when an agent rejects my stuff. I just shrug and move on. Or say, "I queried them? I don't remember doing that." Maybe that's why I'm not heartbroken with the rejections. Plus they're not to my face. ;)

Carolyn V. said...

I always feel so bad for the people who are terrible singers and don't know it until the judges tell them. Ouch.

As for writing. One needs to expect a little rejection, even the best of them. =)

Cheree said...

Ooh, I love Idol and yes, it's hard watching the rejection shows each week because I know the cruel words of "Sorry, but it's just not enough". The lessons from such shows is that everyone gets rejections, it's only if you get back up and push forward that you'll get somewhere.

Amber Lynae said...

It sucks to see dreams crushed whether or not they are your own. But by playing it safe you are right about not standing out. If you want to be notices you have to prove why someone should take notice. You don't get there by playing it safe.

Bethany Wiggins said...

You are all so brilliant! Seriously... LOVE you guys.

And Girl With One Eye, If/When Suzette and I visit Cali, we will totally hang out! BIG time!

Jennifer Walkup said...

Great analogy and great post! So very true. Difficult to take the risk but so very important.

KM said...

Nobody makes history playing it safe. Good post! SYTYCD is one of my favorite shows! So good! :)

Christine Fonseca said...

Perfect! - both your post and Elana's!!!

OfficeGirl said...

I don't cry. I feel awful, but there are no tears. I don't think have the ability to cry anymore. But that's another story for another day. I don't know that my work stands out but I know that I read other books in the genre I'm writing in and I steer clear of those ideas altogether. It seemed for awhile there that every ya fiction book I read had a vampire in it or someone who could read minds...blah. So, I'm over it and I'm hoping to dazzle the world with a new twist on darkness and aloneness. Because if you think about it, people like to look at car wrecks because they want to see the sad story, they want to be moved by it. It makes them appreciate their lives in a small way....and thats what I'm doing, writing a car wreck so people will stop and look.

Christina Lee said...

I've come a LONG way accepting rejection. It definitely helps you GROW. Those AI singers are just kids, so seeing their rejections is somehow harder.

Bish Denham said...

I don't watch those shows. But if I did I suppose being rejected on national TV is worse than getting that return envelope that only I know about.

Mandy said...

It's funny, those shows took on a whole new meaning for me after I started querying. Especially the audition shows. An audition is exactly like a query and listening to the judges critiques would make my stomach flip. I'd heard the same thing before, felt the sting of someone crushing my dreams.

But here's the deal: you don't give up. You take the rejections, the critiques and you use them. You practice, you hone your craft and come back, balls out, to that next "audition". Hard work and determination pays off in the end. I know that for a fact!! ;)

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, such a great post! It's also important to remember though that the judges (and America) sometimes make mistakes!

Patti said...

Rejection is one of the hardest things, that's why preservance is so important.

Rosalind Adam said...

Just arrived here from Jemi Fraser's blog. You need loads of courage to 'play it dangerous' but we must all have some courage to have got this far, to have even submitted mss. So thanks for the push.

Jackee said...

Sure! As long as I don't have to stand in front a judge's panel on national TV. :)

Angie said...

I've been trying to be more bold in my writing all week, and it has worked! I'm on fire when I move forward fearlessly.

Crystal said...

Truly enjoyed this post (and the comments)! Loved this comparison with the writing life and American Idol. Yes, rejection is a bitter pill to swallow. But you're right, it pushes us to do better and take greater risks, if need be.

AchingHope said...

I don't usually cry, but I get very sad inside. My fam and I watched So You Think You Can Dance the one year and got way into it.

I try to give people little quirks, like the mother always knitting, or the main hero person loving bread. In my one WIP the main girl stops breathing when she freaks out, which is really bad because it's a thriller.

Nichole Giles said...

I don't really watch those shows any more either, because I feel the pain with those rejected contestants.

But I agree with you. Most of the time, the judges are right. Playing it safe isn't good enough any more. In any creative field.

Cheers to the risk takers and may I be one of them too.

Ian said...

Nah, I don't cry - but then I rarely watch reality shows. When I see people failing or falling short in anything, of course I feel bad for them and empathise with how they must feel.

No one likes being told they're not good enough - it sucks, but it's happened to us all at some point.

As for my own work, I'm going over and over it. Trying to comb out any stray strands that distract from the main story and ensure I end up with a glossy, shiny, full-bodied, er, story.

Liza said...

I'm new to freelance writing after a career doing something else. The census came recently, and my husband asked: "What do I tell them you do for a job?" Ugh. I still make breakfast and lunch every morning too.

Medeia Sharif said...

I don't get upset when other people are rejected.

I went through plenty of rejection as a writer, and I had to dig deeper to write a better story. Rejection makes people rise above mediocrity.

I'm glad that nobody proclaimed that my earlier novels were wonderful when they weren't. Rejection made me work harder and better.

Kim said...

Hi Suzette - I met you briefly at the Valor book launch, and now I found your blog. I look forward to reading more posts. I've already found great advice here!

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Hi Suzette,

Love your blog, and this is such an important point. I think I'm going to repost this on our blog --it's a great twist on the way we usually think about rejection!