Nothing Personal

Outtakes 68

 Nothing Personal

By Cait Collins

My job requires me to write responses to our customers’ concerns, questions, and complaints. There are days when I hate the job. It’s not easy to tell a beneficiary the funds they were hoping to receive were surrendered before the owner died. Or try explaining the owner took loans from their contracts and did not pay them back; therefore the funds are depleted. Due to the legal and sensitive nature of our correspondence, nothing leaves the building without being reviewed by another member of our staff. There are days when every letter I’ve written comes back with corrections or requests for additional research. Some staff members have problems with the review process. Every correction is a personal affront.

As writers, we can be too sensitive regarding critiques. The purpose behind sharing our work with peers is to gain feedback regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the piece. I’ve been with some groups that slash and burn. There’s nothing right with the novel or story. Trash it and start over. That approach is a personal attack. There is nothing professional in ripping every sentence apart. Good critique partners focus on both the good and the bad. Not everything can be smiley faces. Would you really want to submit a story containing holes in the plot or character inconsistencies to an agent or editor? Good critique is an asset not an attack. It’s good business.

The same goes for rejections from agents and editors. Good stories may not meet market requirements. The publishing house might have their quota of paranormal buys. The author receives a letter expressing regrets but the work does not meet their needs at this time. I’ve heard some suggest the editor didn’t like his story. Trust me there is not a hidden message here. It’s not an attack on the writer’s story or the author’s ability. It is a business decision.

Face it we are all territorial concerning our creations. These are akin to our children. You wouldn’t tell a new mother her baby is ugly; therefore any negative reaction to a submission is personal. Please, please, please do not let this discourage you or cause hurt feelings. Accept the rejection as a learning experience and go on. Do not toss the rejected piece aside and quit writing. There are many agents and editors out there. You may not have hit the jackpot with the first person, but the next reader just might find a home for the story. Even multi-published authors don’t hit a home run every time. It’s important to develop a thicker skin and keep plugging along. After all, it’s not personal; it’s business.

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