Thick Skin

A writer has to have thick skin to make it in this business. It hurts to get critiques. It hurts to get rejections. It hurts to wonder if you’re good enough.

If you want to be a writer, you walk away when it gets tough. You get a critique and you take it to heart like someone just said your beautiful first born child is ugly. You get a rejection and it crushes you to the point of wanting to give up. You lay in bed at night and wonder to yourself if your writing is good enough, if YOU’RE good enough to be in this business and you decide that maybe you need a break from it all.

If you are a writer, you take a deep breath and square your shoulders when it gets tough. You get a critique and use it to make your ms stronger. You get a rejection and you take a moment to mourn the loss of something you hoped for, then you shove in a drawer and smile to yourself because you know that’s a milestone that every writer has to reach. You don’t wonder if your writing is good — you KNOW you’re writing is kick-ass! It might need a little revisions or tweaks, but it’s good.

If you are a writer, you hike your pants up, slip into some tall rubber boots (preferably camo ones, not pink — those are far too girly for the trenches!), and you jump into the mud slick with both feet. You grab the rope and wrap it around your hands so you can’t let go no matter how much you might want to and you trudge forward. You pull one heavy leg from the mud and take a cautious step forward. Then repeat it again a few hundred times more. Eventually you come out on the other side with an amazing ms and a contract in your teeth — your pockets are far too muddy. Your toes are numb and your hands are hard and calloused. But you’re skin is thick and you’ve made it because you are a writer and you didn’t give up.

Today I got another rejection. It was a not a form letter which was a good step in the right direction, and it gave me something new to think about. It’s disappointing to receive, but I am a writer so I’ll lick my wounds and do what I do best. I’ll write until I get to the end.


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11 pings

  1. amanda says:

    You’re right about the thick skin, my writing friend. You said it well. Best of luck~

  2. Wendy Marcus says:

    Great attitude, Heather. The rejections will make publication that much sweeter! Keep writing, keep learning, keep perfecting your craft…you’ll get there.

    1. hthurmeier says:

      Hey Wendy, No sense in having a bad attitude about the whole thing, that won’t make it any easier to get published. I know I still have lots of doors to knock on before I run out of options.

  3. Taryn Kincaid says:

    The fact that you are not getting form rejections says a lot about your writing. Of course it hurts to get a rejection. That’s never fun. But a busy professional saw something s/he liked enough to sit down and give you a piece of valuable advice, intead of just reaching for the big red “NO!” rubber stamp.
    I hope you didn’t feel anyone was too hard on you at our meeting today. I think your idea is good and your writing is smooth. I like this opening scene much better!

    1. hthurmeier says:

      Hey Taryn!

      Nope, I wasn’t upset about my critique. I know that I need to take critique to get better at what I do. Sometimes it will be good, sometimes not so much. But it’s always beneficial. Honestly, I usually walk away from a critique feeling a little bummed because I’m hoping that my work will get praised, so when I hear things that need to be changed, it gives me a lot to think about. Then my mind swirls for a while over what’s best for my vision of the story and what’s been suggested as improvements or changes. Writing is a process and critique is just part of that.

  4. jennifer121 says:

    Hi Heather,

    I have learned to pummel through the masses of rejection letters like a warrior, knowing I will keep getting better and always learning. I also believe I will find that editor that loves my work, and try to balance each critique to keep my voice true but strengthen my writing. It’s all in the journey – but I will let you know my last rejection letter sent me to bed for a while. That’s ok too, sometimes you do need to whine and eat chocolate and feel terrible. Then you get up again and get to work. You are a wonderful writer and your attitude is what will get you to cross the finish line.

  5. Janet Walters says:

    Heather, A well known author that I spoke to after a one day workshop eons ago gave me this bit of advice. Any time you get a critique from an editor or an agent, listen to it and make the changes while being true to your own voice. Your first book is the one you learn on and so are the second and the third and all the rest. If you stop learning it’s time to stop writing.

    1. charmainegordon says:

      Dynamite attitude, Heather.

      Thick skin, you bet. Determination and willing to learn. That’s you. You’re on the way.

      Best of luck,


      1. hthurmeier says:

        Jen, Janet, and Charmaine,

        Thanks for all the advice and of course the support!! It’s wonderful to have such a good network of fellow writers who have ‘been there, done that’ already!


  6. Yolanda says:

    A great attitude! I also keep the ones who give more detailed feedback in mind in case there’s another project they may consider. Or rather, they rank higher on the list than say the one who doesn’t respond at all, etc.

    1. hthurmeier says:

      Hey Yolanda! Thanks for stopping by my blog! It’s tough to get rejected but it’s comforting to know that all writers go through this at some point. It makes it a little easier to know I’m not alone. And I plan on succeeding, it’s just a matter of when and what project. But it will happen! Damn it, it will happen!! 🙂

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