Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dusting Ourselves Off after Set-Backs

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

gaited appaloosa walkaloosaThe other mothers at the stables assured me that the day would come (probably sooner than later) when my daughter was going to come flying off her horse. Naturally, I assumed it would be later. :) So when I picked up my daughter at horse camp a few weeks ago and saw that she was completely covered from head to toe in red clay (which is what passes for soil in many parts of the Deep South), I knew she’d been thrown. The camp counselors were full of hurried explanations about a bucking horse and a stirrup that came off and the horse’s general disposition and youth. I listened a little, but mostly looked my daughter over. She was beaming. “I’m fine!” she said. Well, apparently she hadn’t really been fine at first. There was a time when she’d lost the reins and clutched the horse’s mane in terror trying to hang on for dear life before flying off onto her head. Toby apparently hadn’t wanted to jump, and he hadn’t. The counselor let her catch her breath and dust herself off. She’d also let the bucking horse gallop around the ring a few times to calm himself down. Then the counselor had my daughter climb back on the horse….not to jump, but to remind the horse that she was in charge. She also wanted to ensure that my daughter wouldn’t be scared to get on a horse again. My daughter made up with Toby and even chose to ride the horse during her birthday party a week later. Although I can’t say I was excited about her getting back on a horse that was misbehaving, I think it’s a smart way to deal with being thrown. It’s also a good policy for writers to adopt. Situations where we might fall off the horse: Querying Getting rejected by agents. Getting back on the horse: Increasing scope of our queries (keeping them targeted.) Rewriting our query. Considering direct submission to publishers (carefully targeted). Exploring self-publishing. Writing another book. Reviews (by readers, bloggers, professional reviewers) Receiving poor reviews for our book. Getting back on the horse: Taking an analytical view of the reviews to see if there’s anything we can improve for our next book. Working on our next book.

Reminding ourselves why we’re writing to begin with.


Sales fail to meet our expectations or our publisher’s. Getting back on the horse:

Working on the next book. Considering a pen name if querying other traditional publishers.

It’s interesting to me how many remedies come down to working on our next book. I know how exhausting that can seem when you’ve poured so much time and effort into finishing, revising, querying, and promoting a book. But really, it’s the only way to improve and have a better chance at success in this business. And it’s the only way not to feel overly-invested in one book.

How do you dust yourself off after a set-back?