I Get Knocked Down…

Daruma doll

Have you ever worked months, maybe years, toward a goal you really, truly wanted? I’m talking blood-sweat-and-tear-shedding, sleep-depriving work for this goal in which the pain never bothered you because your excitement and hope blunted it, especially when success was within reach; so close you could stretch out your fingertips and brush the goal’s smooth, pristine surface. Only to have your heart’s desire tip over, fall off the pedestal and shatter on the tile floor into a million teeny tiny pieces?  Along with your heart.

If you’re a writer who has received a rejection letter, you understand exactly how I feel.

I really believed this manuscript was the one. The manuscript that would bring my first contract, start my career, drop me on the path toward New York Times bestsellerdom, and keynote speaker at RWA’s national conference. (What, your dreams don’t include being a future keynote speaker?) Anyway…the editor had good things to say about my writing, but thought my twist was a little too different. Argh! (Side rant: I’m beginning to think the NY publishers don’t want “a new twist on an old story” they want “slight curvatures”.) Granted she was only the first editor we’ve heard back from on the new project, and my agent and I still love it and wholeheartedly believe in it, but the rejection knocked me down anyway. What can I say? I’m a sensitive girl. So as I was sinking into the quicksand of self-pity and crushed dreams, I thought about the Daruma I gave my husband for Christmas.

A Daruma is a traditional Japanese wishing doll that helps us achieve our dreams. When you get a Daruma, you set a special goal and then color in one of the doll’s eyes signifying the start of your commitment to work toward achieving it. Then you place Daruma where you can see him everyday – either at home or at work. He motivates you to stay focused on your goal. Once your goal has been achieved, you signify your accomplishment by coloring in his other eye.

Daruma’s are made from papier-mâché, are rounded, hollow, and weighted on the bottom so they will return to their original upright position if tilted or knocked on their side (like a Weeble Wobble – remember those?). Because of this unique ability to right itself, Daruma is associated with the Japanese proverb, nana korobi yaoki, which states, “Fall down seven times, get up eight”.  In other words, the proverb and the doll represent persistence and perseverance.  Not only is that a good writing motto, it’s a good life motto.

Daruma reminds us to never, ever give up on our dreams. No matter how many rejections we may receive.

~K.M. Fawcett

17 responses to “I Get Knocked Down…

  1. Nice blog! Sorry about the manuscript, though. Stay focused.

  2. My Dad had another – If you are trying, you haven’t failed.

    Nice motivation. I could use some and this helped. Back to writing and google to find my wishing doll

  3. I have five years worth of rejection letters, not to mention the myriad rejection emails. Don’t sweat it. Publishing is a tough nut to crack right now.

  4. Great blog! As to the rejection — hugs. One thing to keep in mind with ANY rejection is that every bit of writing you do teaches you something. Even if you NEVER sell this book, you will use what you learned when you write the next one. Each book makes you better. I recently read a book I published in 2005, and my writing has improved a great deal. Which is why it’s so important to keep slugging even when you don’t succeed. Go to work on the next one. Then when you sell it, selling the previous book will be much easier. Or you could even self-publish it at Amazon and B&N. Backlists are very valuable now.

  5. That’s so tough, Kathy. It’s almost harder to take those rejections when we feel close and we’re getting “good but not quite” feedback. I got an R&R recently, but it’s really thrown me for a loop because I’m not quite sure how to accomplish what she’s talking about. And I love my book. How much revision is too much when there’s no contract on the table?

    Anyway, I love the idea of the daruma. Good luck! I hope this MS is the one for you.

    • Gwen – I read your blog about that. Can you email the editor and have her better explain what she wants? The revisions I’ve done for my agent seemed pretty clear for me because she was clear on what wasn’t working. Sorry I can’t offer you any other advice on your R&R. Good luck with it!

  6. Great blog! Although I keep telling myself, “fall down 2,134, 000 times, get up 2,134, 001” ;). I think I need to find one of those dolls too!

    • You’re right, Marie, it doesn’t matter how many time we fall, as long as we keep getting up again. The Daruma doll in the picture above is my husband’s, but I think I need to get one for me too! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Rejections SUCK. on that. And to be cliche “a black belt is a white belt who never quit.”

  8. Great job, Kath. It’s like you read my mind :))))) At times I feel like the little engine that could when it comes to writing….I think I can, I think I can….I think I can….getting up the hill is hard work….can’t wait until I reach the top and enjoy the ride : )

    • Thanks, Cathy. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever crest the top of the hill. Just got to keep chugging along. Or as Dori from Finding Nemo says, “Just keep swimming…Just keep swimming…” You’ll get there, Cath. I believe in you.

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