Sometimes Failure Is Part of the Process

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Experimenting is part of the creative process. Things can change at any stage in a painting’s or manuscript’s development. 

The writing process is an exciting and adventurous process. It sometimes feels electrifying and at other times, downright discouraging.  A writer needs to go in knowing that it might not work.   It means that results don’t matter as much as the process, the joy and the journey.

I try to keep this in mind every time I sit down at a blank page. An athlete has to work out to get to a point where she wins the competition. A writer sometimes has to fail many times before succeeding. It’s part of the journey to that wonderful piece that finally works.

I’ll be blogging on Thursdays, and posting announcements, as they come, on Thursdays. Follow me on WordPress at http://www.eileenpkennedy.com

Rejection Therapy in Writing

Ok, so your piece has been rejected. As writers, we all go through it. Rejection can be defined as the act of pushing something away. We submit a piece or a manuscript somewhere where we think it will be a fit, and the powers that be don’t see it that way.

One thing I find that helps is knowing that publishing is just a business. A publisher is looking for something specific and your writing may not fit the bill. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad, it just means it’s not what the publisher is looking for.

Most editors don’t comment on their rejections, but if you do get feedback, you may learn from it. I had an editor tell me I was using too many adjectives and adverbs. I took the advice to heart and started editing them out, and it made my writing stronger.

When a piece has been rejected several times, I try revising it. Language in its uneducated, natural form, reveals if we uncouple our own judgment and explore linguistic vehicles, the piece may be better. In poetry, it sometimes means trying a different format. If it’s a free verse poem, I’ll try something more formal, like a pantoum or sonnet. It sometimes can provide a different, more successful vehicle for the piece.

Another thing I sometimes try is reordering the piece. The last line might not be right. The last line might be found a stanza or two up. Maybe I’ve done too much explaining, and it wants cutting. Or the beginning of the piece might better serve it in the middle.

When I did my last collection, “Touch My Head Softly,” I kept rearranging the order of the poems. Then I realized nothing fit the beginning. So I wound up writing a prose poem to start off the collection.

When I’m going through rejections, I sometimes remind myself why I like to write, and this often makes me feel better. I wrote the poems in Touch My Head Softly, about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s in his sixties. It helped me to get through my grief by doing this and this became an end in itself.

You can view my collection Touch My Head Softly, at:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Touch My Head Softly can be viewed on Goodreads at:

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https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3609820860https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/

Rejection is Inevitable for the Writer

If you are a writer, and you want to publish, you have to submit your work to a publisher, a journal, a magazine, a website….If you submit, you will be rejected.  No one who submits goes without this inevitable experience.

I recall reading Thor Heyerdahl’s account of his myriad rejections of Kon-Tiki.  He said one editor wrote that no one would buy into an account of a crazy person sailing 5,000 miles across the Pacific in a hand-made raft and another who said no one was interested in Oceana or sailing anymore. 

Rejection can be valuable.  It can cause us to re-examine, refine and re-edit.  Maybe it will make our work better.  You can learn things about the market from rejection.  How can you make it more universally appealing?  Remember, rejection is not personal.  It’s about the work, not you.  The publisher doesn’t even know you.  

Sometimes rejections are worthless.  Just because a person is an editor does not mean they’re qualified to pass literary judgments.  But if you keep getting the same criticism of a piece, a repetition, then maybe it is a valid criticism that you could heed and use to rewrite.

I once got so frustrated with rejections, I wrote a poem about it:

Villanelle for the Rejected Poet

The Exalted Society regrets to inform 

That despite your verse’s abstruse plot

Your poem was rejected by the Writers Reform.

We do not understand your sonata-like form

Your work has no rhyme nor school of thought

The Exalted Society regrets to inform.

We do not like to discourage or misinform

Please with some other place find a spot

Your poem has been rejected by the Writers Reform.

Do not whine, criticize, or fill out a claim form

Your work left us confused and distraught

The Exalted Society regrets to inform.

Do send a check or cash with this subscription form

With your handiwork contact us not

Your poem has been rejected by the Writers Reform.

We publish all races, creeds, genders and artists’ forms

From everyone but you – we have got

The Exalted Society regrets to inform

Your poem was rejected by the Writers Reform.

                                    Published in The Road Not Taken, Fall 2013

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On Inspiration for Writers

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As writers, we are always looking for the new thing that is going to sprint our writing forward. The inspiration, if you will.

Procrastinating , spending more time thinking about writing than actually writing. I happens to all of us. When I get a block, I just write through it. You may wind up throwing out what you’ve read, but it will get you moving to the writing that you do want to keep.

Writing is a simple process. You sit down at your desk, and you write. That’s it. Whether you feel like it, or not. Even if you’d much rather do just something else. The professional writer keeps going, no matter what.

I wrote a book of poetry about my former partner who died of Alzheimer’s. It was a painful topic for me, but eventually I did it. I’m glad I did. It was recently published by Finishing Line Press. Take a look:

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/touch-my-head-softly-by-eileen-kennedy/