So, I got my millionth rejection letter today. Okay, that’s dramatic – the number is probably more like six. That’s not to say I haven’t submitted work to many places; this was just the fifth person cool enough to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
What I liked about this rejection letter was that it came with notes. Three bits of advice tomake my manuscript more “reader-ready” were respectfully received – and it’s with two of those bits that I respectfully disagree. And that’s really okay. You’re allowed to disagree with feedback without being considered a diva or an overly sensitive artist.
Your voice matters whether or not an editor – or a hundred editors, for that matter – thinks your voice is over the top, underwhelming or, in my recent WIP’s case, contrived. I felt compelled to write this blog post as a means of avoiding a night sitting in front of my television with a pint of peanut butter chocolate ice cream, watching my favorite romantic comedies and sobbing about how I was born in the wrong era because nobody understands my voice. I’m sure this post will come off as an explanation, and take from it what you will.
Begin passive-aggressive rant in 3,2…
Two sides create balance...
Just like there are two sides to every story, there are two sides to me. My two very favorite creative outlets are my band and my books. I utilize each very differently and for different reasons. It’s not super complicated – my songs are for expressing the angry and perpetually cynical side of me while my books express the bright and optimistic side. Like most other writers or creative types, I rely on my art to keep me sane and to keep me in fighting form when it comes to dealing with this world. And let’s face it – the world, for the most part, sort of sucks. Having these two mediums to express my inner Hulk *and* my inner Disney Princess helps create balance in my life. And who knows – maybe one day the scales will tilt and I’ll write a darker book or a happier song. But for now, my voice is what it is, and it’s mine.
I need to protect my voice...
The way I tell a story, through song or written word, is something that I always want to preserve. There are some people who excel in telling dark or morbid tales. There are others who tell it like it is with no level of deviation. And then there are escapists, like me. We tell stories based on how we’d like to see the world, and how we wish things could be. The voice of the escapist is just as important as any other, and it sort of hurts when someone looks at a story of mine and says, “No way does that guy exist.” or “That would never happen that way.” With all due respect, I think of these people as naysayers, even kill joys. The next time you read a story that seems a little off kilter (like, you know, reading about a guy who pursues a girl with no games or falsehoods attached), think of these words:
|Yes, Willy Wonka said that too.|
"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams..." - A. O'Shaughnessey, Ode
And even if you can’t believe that we are capable of making life beautiful, even if only on paper, then remember that stranger things can happen, and have. Life isn’t always grand, but it can be. And guys aren’t always heroic, chivalrous and strong while being sensitive, nurturing, and supportive… but they can be. The point to my storytelling is to alleviate my life, and yours, of a bit of the hard cold cynicism that naturally exists in all of us.
|Loki gets it.|
When I write, I want to make people smile, laugh, and even cry. I want my reader to escape, to feel a little joy – even on days where your coffee’s fallen twice, your boyfriend’s cheated on you and your hair was nearly set on fire. I admit that sometimes, I can’t stand the world in general at all – the division, the stupidity, the ignorance and the blatant hurtful nature of humans as a total race can be too much to bear. So I write to get away, and to pull people away. I write because, even when my lyrics are angry and aggressive, I don’t always have to be.
I’d love it if readers in general could respect the beauty of a happy ending. I’d love it more if folks could pick up a book and once again appreciate the beauty of a meet-cute or an unlikely introduction or an alignment of the stars. We don’t always see it, but it exists. It has to.
To my writer friends who continue to believe in the happy ending, whether they’ve found their own or not: don’t ever lose your voice to someone who wants to make yours just like the others.