Try and try again – Ann Garvin

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By Ann Garvin

I sometimes think writing should be called rejection because it seems those two words live together when trying to get anything published. How does a writer stay positive and keep going in the face of both an unclear path and the constant rejection that comes with submission? I’m not one for hollow ‘follow your dreams’ cheerleading so I’ll dispense with that and give you the hard lessons that helped me.♥

Bob Mankoff, the man who selects the comics for the New Yorker magazine, said this: “The difference between an amateur and a professional is that amateurs like everything they write.” That really stuck with me when I was being rejected over and over again when on submission with my first novel On Maggie’s Watch and so I stopped liking what I wrote and started looking for what people saw that was lacking in my work.

I stopped defending my choices and I started examining them. I asked for advice, I paid for help, and I kept trying.I Like You Fine_final cvr

When a gracious writer or agent gave me specific feedback, I gobbled it up and went back to work looking for places to revise and hone my skills. When I got the thirty-fifth rejection, I paid for a manuscript development editor and tried again.

Then, while I waited for either more rejections or an acceptance I started another project. I took another writing class. I joined a writing group and I listened. Little by little I became a professional by both liking and disliking my work. I took a step back and then a step forward and danced the cha-cha until I was accepted for publication.

What about now? Now that my third book is out and my fourth book is out on submission – has anything changed? No, nothing has changed. I work really hard to remain professional and only partially like my work before acceptance and publication. I find this is a great place to be when working hard to stay relevant and desired.

In case you’d like to talk more about this, come see me at where I work hard to create professionals who publish and finally find the success they are seeking.

Ann Garvin is the author of The Dog Year, On Maggie’s Watch and her latest book I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around. She lives in Stoughton, WI, and is a professor of sports psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a MFA teacher in New Hampshire.

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