Paul Giamatti beautifully portrays the ravages that manuscript rejection can inflict on an aspiring author in the movie Sideways. He has had a few near misses with his dark, ponderous novel – giving just enough hope to perpetuate his agony. When his last-hope publisher eventually turns him down, he life careens sideways into a hellish pit of hopelessness, wine and self-hatred that creates havoc with his budding romance, car, and relationship with his best friend.
If you identify with his angst, and are living a life of unfulfilled literary dreams, you might also find it’s hard to write at times. Disappointment and disillusionment can suck the energy out of the desire to create. You think: “Why bother? Writing isn’t worth the agony. I don’t have what it takes anyway. Screw them all! Publishers are all a bunch of idiots!”
Still, it may be harder to walk away from writing than you think.
When you write, what sort of expectations of success are youbringing to the task? Where is the point where desire and ambition become a hinderance rather than a motivating factor? How much control of your self-esteem do you hand over to nameless and faceless editors at publishing houses who have a lot of things on their minds besides your book?
You may have to grow stronger to stomach the inevitability of rejection as a writer. It’s not easy to sell a book, and often a variety of factors are involved that have nothing to do with your talent as an author. (I try to keep in mind that The Cat in the Hat was rejected by 50 publishers before Dr. Seuss hit pay dirt.)
If you are prone to being pestered by a critical, unforgiving inner voice, writing is an especially challenging road. Luckily, Giamatti makes us laugh along with the crying, and things work out a bit better by the end. After you’ve written today, pour a glass of good wine and watch the movie.