Saturday, November 12, 2016


You know that sketch I showed you recently in which a writer and three script editors walk into a bar? (Here's a link to remind you.) I've seen it several times and it makes me crack up every time. And my writer friends also think it's hilarious. How about you?

I ask, because Dave said it made him furious - that a creative person should be demolished in that way - and he launched into one of his rants. My brother said the sketch made him sad. 

The reason writers like it is because they recognise it as an exaggerated version of what they go through all the time. I think it was Matt Haig who said (something like) "You need a thin skin to write and a thick skin to sell your writing." Usually what happens is you tell the story and then you show it to other people and then they launch into all kinds of questions which attack your story or your telling of it. In the sketch, the script editors don't even let the writer get his story out.

Last week I was telling a friend my news and said "I got a lovely rejection for my children's picture book" and she laughed and said what a positive person I was. Other people, too, have laughed when I've said I got a nice rejection. They were not writers.  If you're an experienced writer you have had years of deconstructing the subtext of rejection  letters and have learned to tell the difference between a blank rejection - thank you, but no thank you, followed by phrases of flim-flam -
e.g.  I have read your material, but I did not feel it would be right for my list and therefore I am unable to offer you representation. I am sorry not to be writing with better news, but I hope this response will not discourage you and I wish you all the best with your writing.

and a rejection where it is clear that the person can see your work is good, but for some reason has decided they don't want to take it on.
e.g.We enjoyed your writing, but after extensive consideration, we do not feel that we are the right agency to represent your proposed material.
...followed by flim flam.

If, God forbid, you are the agent who wrote that last email to me, please DON'T contact me and tell me it was your version of a blank rejection. 

The point about all of the above is that writers develop a thick skin to cope with rejections. But life itself is a different matter. A friend and I agreed last week that we are less resilient to bad family news now than we used to be, and with age we become even less resilient. And it surprises me. I thought that as I went on and life threw more and more things at me, I'd become stronger and more able to absorb the blows. I don't, which means that I don't agree with the popular quotation: "Whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you stronger." 

1 comment:

marmee said...

I did laugh at that video but was also aghast at how tough it must be to present something ! Re the stronger or not ...I am not sure. In some ways yes, very much so. I am more flexible, less needing all to be just so but at the same time sooo much more aware that bad thing can and do happen and so I am in some ways very thin skinned. The Tr...p thing depressed me unbelievably! Its also why I choose books and movie sand tv carefully...I too easily think of some dire thing happening to my beloved people...and even when that does not arise it is too painful to for eg to allow myself to really consider deeply refugee children. Oh horror, or war zones!