S&M and A Writer’s Thick Skin

Did I make you look? Good! Because sadomasochistic is how many people see us creative folk. We spend countless hours, days, months and years looking for acceptance and bowing our heads to the shame of rejection. Or do we?

I do not believe that soliciting one’s work is any form of S&M. It’s just nature. Like dudes who’ve gotta ski or surf… the powder and the waves call to them. And so do our words, beckoning our right-brains to conjure up query letters and pitches to hopefully garner the right kind of attention.

Along the way toward being published, however, is where thick skin comes in. You’re going to have a lot of it if you go far. Eucerin won’t help. Either will pumice (Owen, pumice my feet!). In fact, you don’t really want the thick skin to go away. You’ve earned it by accepting countless rejections, hearing nothing from agents and editors about your work, and receiving the dreaded “not for me” letters from those who accepted your query bait and asked to see the partial or full.

How should you care for your thick skin? Some writers choose to douse it repeatedly in alcohol. Others seek the comfort of chocolate (not a bad idea, considering that cocoa butter is good for the epidermis). Still, the best way to care for your thick skin is to continue toughening it. Your hide is your strength, and whether you never see a published book, or you’re waiting with glee for your ARCs to show up, you’d be a smart pen holder to wear your thick skin with pride.


21 thoughts on “S&M and A Writer’s Thick Skin

  1. Three cheers for thick, reptile skin. My book is out on submission. You need thick skin just to wait for responses. I’m going to keep walking around barefoot and build up those calluses.

    1. Oh, you know it! Mine is out on sub, too. I have even used Burt’s Bees hand care kit… not effective in this case. I think I’ll switch to the alcohol. LOL!

      – Julie

      1. And good luck to you, too! Mine has been out about three weeks? Sometimes I forget, and then I freak out when I remember.

  2. I think it’s the unrealistic people who don’t develop this thick skin.

    I meet writers who think that if they start writing now, that they’ll be published within a year. What about revising, editing, querying, getting a contract, etc.? The writing and publishing process just doesn’t go that fast.

    And I’ve also read about people’s poor reactions to rejection by attacking agents and editors.

    The best thing to do is develop a thick skin, keep writing, keep submitting, and using any constructive criticism to strengthen one’s writing.

    And it doesn’t help to be overly sensitive.

    1. I think that certain people believe in the “sensitivity” stereotype branded upon creatives. Like we have to live that way. Yes, we are probably sensitive, but the ones who, like you, are dedicated to the craft and willing to go the mile, have the right skin thickness! πŸ™‚

      – Julie

      1. I don’t like the stereotype. Just like any other profession, we have a wide range of personalities.

        I feel my skin getting even thicker. I’m readying myself for the possibility of bad reviews on my debut novel.

  3. Julie: Great topic! I certainly need to thicken my skin. But, my biggest challenge is to thicken it against ME. I tend to keep my writing under wraps far too long. I’m blogging today on a related topic- Revisions or Refuse AKA Rewrite or Reject.

    Thanks for the chance to chime in.

    1. Hi Cassy!

      You have a good point. We tend to hold ourselves hostage to things such as “it’s no good” and “nobody will like it.” My, how we can do a number on ourselves! Please let me know when your blog post is up… I want to read it!

      πŸ™‚ Julie

    1. Hey Kari!

      Now that’s some thick skin! When it rains, it pours. In the meantime, you had to figure out a creative way of keeping dry. You’ve come a long way! πŸ˜›

      – Julie

  4. Julie, great blog. The funnest thing I’ve heard as a writer is when we start talking about the good rejection letters. What a crazy bunch we are.

    Madeia, I hear you about worrying that your debut novel will get bad reviews. I worry that mine won’t get written in time!!

    Julie, back to the subject, the old saying that writing isn’t for sissies says it all.

    1. Hi Liz!

      Thank you! Oh yes, the great discussion about rejections. It’s a subjective mosaic of letters, some more verbose than others. I had one rejection letter than took up a whole page! Wow! Other rejections were as short as a sentence.

      Writers aren’t sissies – they’re amazing people with a lot of tenacity behind the pen! We ought to know!

      – Julie

  5. Hi there this is kinda of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to
    get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Karina,

      The top blogging platforms, Blogger and WordPress (what I use allow you to format the look without knowledge of HTML. However, you can view what you create in HTML by changing the viewing option in your blogging platform. Since Blogger was bought by Google, it has become a bit friendlier to use, but I am partial to WordPress, which offers a wonderful selection of templates to choose from. I hope that this helps!


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