Light Bulb Successes

Monday, October 25, 2010

The waiting is killing me. The waiting for acceptances (or rejections) for two books I am currently circulating among publishers and agents.

Not that waiting is anything new. Or rejections, either. Both are normal parts of writing for publication.

According to Jack Canfield in Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life:
Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind and Dr. Seuss's first children's book were each rejected at least 25 times before they found a publisher. 
Louis L'Amour received 350 rejections before he made his first sale; and
Jack London had it even worse, receiving 600 rejection slips before selling his first story.
I've sold over a dozen articles and devotions and one non-fiction book, so I'm doing better than many at this stage in my writing career. Still, waiting is hard, and rejections can be crushing. So to keep things in perspective, I think of each rejection as a light bulb success.

Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb, but he did make it practical. He tried thousands of filaments before he found one that burned long enough to be commercially viable. He could have given up at number 10, or 100, or 1000, but he didn't see those tests as failures. He saw them as successes because each "failure" ruled out another filament that didn't work and moved him that much closer to the one that would.

I want that attitude. Each rejection is a success rather than a failure. By ruling out another publisher that isn't perfect for my book, the rejection gets me one submission closer to the publisher that is.

These two quotes attributed to Thomas Edison explain why I refuse to give up.
Many of life's failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
And this doesn't just apply to inventors and writers. It can work for you, too.

Yes, waiting is hard. But I'm continuing to write while I wait for that e-mail or telephone call offering me the contract that will make me the next J.K. Rowling. Because all my rejections are light bulb successes.


susan miura said...

Great post, Kathryn! And great timing too...for me, that is, since I've just been hit with a couple of those light bulb successes. Thanks for the encouragement.

Lisa Lickel said...

Nice thinking, Kathryn. My writing bud calls them "denials." I have four ms circulating right now. Just keep going. Persistence is admirable.

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