~ by Amanda Smith
As a substitute teacher I often walk into an emergency, with lesson plans drawn up quickly by someone whose mind was in a much more urgent place. On one such a day, the art teacher left me, in her words, “sketchy plans” – most of which involved students finishing current projects followed by open studio. Now, I’m all for open studio and free draw, but first grade had no projects to finish first. That meant 45 minutes of free draw: The definition of chaos.
Thankfully, I had a planning period. And an ally in the school librarian. After thinking for a second or two, she pulled Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion off her shelf.
“You know,” she said, “kids love dogs. And they always enjoy Harry’s adventures.”
Together we studied Margaret Bloy Graham’s illustrations, and a lesson plan was born.
Fast forward to the first-grade class. I read the book. The kids were delighted. Then I held up Harry the Dirty Dog. “We are going to draw Harry,” I said.
Shock and mayhem.
“We can’t draw like that!”
I turned a deaf ear to the protests as I handed out a sheet of paper with a rectangle already drawn on it. I explained that we would have to work together to draw Harry, as it is a step by step process. Then the students and I drew Harry using the parameters of a rectangle.
As their dog drawings took shape, their joy was contagious. And here’s the thing: even though they all followed my instructions, not one of the dogs looked the same. We had skinny, long nosed dachshunds, and pudgy, round nosed puppies. We had droopy eared dogs and shaggy tailed dogs. Boy Harrys with spiky collars and girl Harrys with pink bows. Every student loved their own Harry, and was amazed that they could indeed draw like that.
Here’s what I learned by drawing Harry, and how it pertains to writing:
by Kelly Carey
Any writer who has been around the query block once or twice, knows rejections are a part of the process. Getting a rejection can have you shoving that manuscript into a folder far away and out of sight.
Don’t do it!
Instead, employ the Boomerang Submission Strategy. The same day you get those infuriating “thanks but no thanks” replies, send that manuscript back out to the next dream agent and/or editor on your wish list.
That manuscript was a complete, fully revised, and polished piece of work that you submitted with confidence and hope. A single rejection, in fact, I would argue a dozen rejections, should not be enough to warrant a delay in sending the manuscript back out on its journey to publication.
The danger in overreacting to rejection letters is that a single denial can slam your manuscript into an unproductive holding pattern. I’ve done it. After a rejection, I’ve tucked many manuscripts away. My mind set at the time was that I would look at it again after my wounded ego had healed. It was often a shock to run across that folder again and realize that I had let three months or even three years go by before I had considered myself “healed”. Worse, when I have re-read the rejected manuscript I found that I still had confidence in the story. The same confidence that had me submitting it in the first place. Only now, I had wasted months and sometimes years letting the manuscript sit stagnant in a folder.
As an alternative, last year, I started employing the Boomerang Submission Strategy. As soon as a submitted manuscript came back, I sent it right back out again.
A few caveats. First, this strategy works only if you have fully vetted and revised your story before you’ve sent it out. Do your revisions. Seek out advice from a critique partner and/or critique group, preferably more than one group and more than a single read. Second, this strategy is most effective when the rejection letters that come back are form letters with very little or no actual constructive advice. Things like “it doesn’t fit our list at this time” or “it didn’t resonate enough with me” are not really red flags for surrender or an indication of the need for a major rewrite. Finally, you need to be precise when you toss your boomerang ...er... I mean manuscript out into the publishing world. Choose your target agents and editors carefully, check out their wish lists, read their submission requirements, and be sure your manuscript is hitting the mark. Don't fling with reckless abandon, but with the skill and precision of a professional writer.
If the denial letter is detailed and offers true constructive advice, you can pause and consider. BUT do not attempt a massive revision after a single negative comment unless your writing self, to the core, feels the strength of the advice. That said, I would recommend setting a tight time-frame on how long you will hold onto your manuscript before you put it out on submission again. Give yourself a week or maybe a month and then Boomerang!
Letting a story languish in a folder simply because it hasn’t yet found its ideal agent and/or editor is a colossal waste of time. So try the Boomerang Submission Strategy and let your manuscript fly!
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