“I’m sorry, but your writing didn’t fit our tone,” said a recent rejection e-mail from a Hong Kong publication (yes, I now eat rejection e-mails for breakfast).
Rejections can be hard on the ego. Writers, famous or not, have experienced rejection. What makes a jilted writer different from the other is how he handles it.
I admit I was slighted by the tone of the e-mail. What the &*$%^–you don’t like my writing?
But of course, I realized: Different folks, different strokes. Maybe I was just too cheerful and happy for their publication (the Chinese aren’t necessarily praised for showing emotion, especially happiness). So I wrote a quick reply thanking them for the opportunity to apply but that I was hoping I would be able to change their, uh, tone (there it is again) and make it better.
Apparently, they’re happy with their tone, never mind if it seems boring. “If you decide you’d like to write in our tone, feel free to send a new set of copy.”
I decided not to. You can’t sell to people who can’t see what they’re missing.
Lesson learned: If people don’t appreciate your writing style, take it elsewhere.
(On Skype, a few hours later, I closed a deal and got the price I wanted. I asked the prospective client what he thought of the articles and he said, “I thought it was great.” Maybe I’m not so bad after all.)
It is 1 a.m. on a Monday and I am stuck writing a piece for an oral reading competition.
I promised myself six months ago that I would end this habit of writing at 1 am. The idea gets me constipated.
No, I am not getting paid to do it. Call it “happily paying one’s dues.” The piece is for my favorite high-school teacher Ms. Sato, who is competing this week. She e-mailed me several days ago asking if I could write a 5- to 7-minute piece for her. “It’s for your alumni, dear,” she said. How could I refuse such a plea?
So here I am, on my second leg of rewriting. I spent all afternoon Saturday sitting in front of my laptop thinking of what to write. (Please, don’t tell me, “You’ve been writing for a decade now! How can you not get that piece right?”)
These are one of those days when I tell myself, gently, “Darling, put away your laptop and find a different career. You’re a bad writer.”
Keep in mind that there are less fortunate people struggling to find one, so the best job in the market is the one you have now.
Meanwhile, here are some ways to make yourself indispensable (warning: list does not include cozying up to bosses).
If there’s anything this recession taught me, it’s that learning a new skill or program or taking on a new function isn’t just a meantime thing. It might lead you to a new, exciting career.
Writers and editors love a good book, especially something they haven’t read before. I always like to be surprised, so I enjoy receiving books by authors I haven’t read or heard of.
They love a good cup of coffee to start off their writing task. Nothing beats the strong kick of caffeine in the morning. I haven’t met an editor/writer who didn’t love her coffee.
Writers and editors love (and keep) long letters and cards because they know the effort that goes into crafting a note. A new friend N tells me she keeps all the holiday gift cards that come with personal notes. (I do too.)
Writers and editors love a good writing or editing challenge. As an editor, I love the thrill of seeing a raw manuscript and improving it so the rest of the world can enjoy it.
Writers and editors love fine-point pens, newly sharpened pencils, and good, smooth paper. The safest gift, next to a book, you can give a writer or an editor is a good notebook.
Writers and editors love silence.
What about you? What do you love?
Thanks to rknds