Voila! WD-40, which stands for Water Displacement, 40th attempt.
I find that inspiring! What if they’d given up on number 39? Then I wouldn’t have my favorite solution for unsticking locks and making my sliding glass doors actually slide.
WD-40 Your Manuscripts
No, don’t spray the greasy mist on your manuscript. But do take the WD-40 as your slogan. Don’t stop revising and submitting until you also have tried many, many times!
In order to spur myself on to submit several book manuscripts that I had “retired” after just two rejections, I was reading in Ralph Keyes’ The Writer’s Book of Hope. I was encouraged by some very famous “WD-40″ kinds of authors who would have remained nameless if they’d given up so early.
- Despite being represented by a top literary agent and being read by prominent editors, John Knowles’s A Separate Peace was rejected by every major American publisher who saw it. (It was published in London.)
- Other famous books that went through multiple rejects include: Look Homeward, Angel; Love Story; A Wrinkle in Time; All Things Bright and Beautiful and many other novels that became classics and continue to sell decades later.
- Twenty major publishers thought Chicken Soup for the Soul had no commercial prospects, despite the authors being experienced speakers and aggressive marketers.
- Stephen King’s first four novels and sixty short stories were rejected.
Having your work turned down is no fun, and I won’t sing the praises of being rejected. I hate it too. But we must come to terms with it, accept it as part of the writing life, accept criticism if it has merit, and get on with it.
A Necessary Part
As Keyes puts it, “To working writers, rejection is like stings to a beekeeper: a painful but necessary part of their vocation.”
And now…in the spirit of the inventers of WD-40, I’m getting back to my umpteenth revision.