There’s “Courage” in DisCouragement
Guest Post by Lynda Fitzgerald
Everyone gets discouraged from time to time, but let’s take a closer look at the word.
To discourage means to deprive of confidence, hope or spirit; to hamper by discouraging; to try to prevent by expressing disapproval or raising objections.
Courage, which forms a part of that word, is the power to deal with or face danger, fear, or pain; the confidence to act in accordance with one’s beliefs; or bravery.
What I’m talking about here is the discouragement felt by the aspiring author, but it applies equally in all facets of life. So readers and others, take note.
For the fiction writer, it takes tremendous courage to put their work out there in the public eye. They have, in essence, bared their souls, or that’s the case if they’ve written from deep within. No matter how they may try to disguise it, they’ve exposed their basic values to the world: what they revere, what they despise; who they admire and disdain. They’ve exposed their deepest beliefs in their choice of heroes and villains. And when a reader or reviewer pans their work, they can (and usually do) become discouraged. They lose the confidence to argue their case, to defend their work. And that’s a shame. Not that they don’t defend their work. They shouldn’t, and they also shouldn’t feel the need to.
Our work, our best, is what we have to offer as authors or artists or whatever. If someone disdains your best, so what? There is enough diversity out there some are bound to like it and some, not. What causes the problem is that our egos are tied up in that work, and criticism feels like a personal attack on us. So how do we deal with it?
A few who came before us have managed it.
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck was rejected fourteen times but went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. Mary HIggins Clark was rejected forty times before she sold her first story. She was told her stories were “light, slight and trite.” She now has more than thirty million copies of her books in print. And how about John Grisham? His first novel was rejected by fifteen publishers and thirty agents. Now he has more than sixty million copies of his books in print. The list goes on. Dr. Seuss, Louis L’Amour, Jack London all experienced rejections, totaling 824 of those pesky form letters between the three of them. See where I’m going with this?
Rejection and discouragement mean nothing. What matters is what you do with it.
I teach a class called “Making Rejection Work for You,” and I use my own experience in becoming a published author as an intro. When I was first picked up for publication, I’d been writing thirty years and had finished seven novels. I thought my first novel was great. Publishers didn’t. After sulking for a few weeks, I sent it out again and wrote another novel. And another and another. I guess I had courage. I called it determination. My mother always referred to it as “butt-headedness.” Whatever. The bottom line is that the more I was rejected, the more determined I became and the harder I tried, and therein lies the key.
No, this article is not intended to be a virtual pat on my back. It’s not about me, even if the premise is drawn from my personal experience. Think of how much less rich the world would be if Jack London had caved, if Pearl S. Buck had thrown away her rejected drafts. Think how much poorer the world will be if you give up because others try to discourage you, whether you’re a writer or musician or accountant or…fill in the blank.
In this world, nay-sayers abound, but they only have the power we give them. No matter who you are or what you do or want to do, you’ll face criticism and discouragement at some time in your life. That’s where the “courage” part comes in.
Remember who you are and what you want. And every time you’re tempted to give up, every time you feel discouraged, remember there’s courage in that word. Chant it like a mantra. Make discouragement―like rejection―work for you.
Lynda Fitzgerald is a multi-genre author, teacher and speaker. Her debut novel, “If Truth Be Told,” was released in June, 2007. “Of Words & Music,, her second, came out in March of 2009, and her mystery series, LIVE, was launched in Spring 2010 with the release of “LIVE Ringer.” “LIVE Ammo” followed in 2012, with “LIVE in Person” due out in early spring 2013. Check out her website, http://www.fitzgeraldwrites.com, for more about Lynda and her books, including excerpts from each.