Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Writers and Rejects with Guest Blogger Maya Jax

Win a Copy of Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me & a Jax keychain from adorable author Maya Jax TODAY the Book Boost!

She's here to discuss something that all writers must face...rejection!

Here's what she had to say...

Writers and Rejects by Maya Jax

Writing for a living is kind of like being stuck in seventh grade your whole life. You know you’re not the worst, but people are constantly telling you that you’re no good or that they don’t want you. Any complexes you didn’t overcome during fourth period gym class are going to come back full force if you’re taking a seat in the writer’s chair. And the beautiful thing about writers is that we always come back for more, like the poor kid who’s picked last for the baseball team each time, no matter how much it hurts, we keep showing up for the next round hoping that maybe this time it will be different.

And with writing, rejection comes from all angles, though I find that rejection for books is much easier to take than for screenwriting. With a screenplay, you’re usually face-to-face with the person who is about to tell you that you’re no good. You sit down, introduce yourself and fly into your sales routine while trying to ignore the studio rep’s blank stares and subtle eye rolls. One poor guy I know had the rep fall asleep during his pitch. It is very demoralizing, but it is all part of the writing experience and a very crucial part to the industry. Learning to handle rejection is learning to master the game. And in the end, the decision-makers are taking as much of a gamble by saying no as they are by saying yes. Twelve publishing houses rejected J K Rowling’s Harry Potter manuscript before Bloomsbury picked it up. Twelve! The ones with the power can’t always know the best move.

Fortunately life provides a ton of experience outside of gym class to prep us for when the decision-makers tell us no. My best friend and I once went paint-balling with twenty guys that we didn’t know very well. When it came to picking teams, guess who were the last two choices. No one wanted us. And even when there was no one left to choose, the guys had a hard time deciding which girl they wanted on their team. It was the first time I’d been picked last for anything. I had to do the sad walk from where I was standing over to the team that was stuck with me. But at the end of the game, us girls were the only ones left standing. We took down our opponents and dodged enough bullets to be the only survivors. It was a great lesson in the school of rejection: no matter how many people think you suck, at the end of the day, you are the only person who can prove you don’t. And when you finally get your chance to shine -- and you will -- victory is that much sweeter.

No matter what your skill level, there will always be someone who doesn’t like what you do. It’s your job as a writer to take that rejection, listen to any helpful criticism in it and then let it go. Move on. Don’t hang onto it and definitely don’t let anyone convince you that they know better. They don’t!

A Note from the Book Boost: I love this post! What a great motivational speaker you are, Maya! Thanks for hanging out with us today at the Boost! We'd love to have you back again. Please tell us more about your book.


Lelaina Zane graduated from law school three years ago and headed straight for LA to try making it as a screenwriter. So far, she only has three years waitressing experience and a ton of rejection letters. She thinks she’s finally on the verge of her big break, when she’s called back to her hometown because her dad has fallen ill. It’s a fast and funny read about balancing life and expectations.


I’ve had moments of extreme stupidity in the past, but this may be my stupidest move yet. I’m sure I’ll outdo myself at a later date, but for now -- stupidest move ever. And yet, I’m not stopping.

“How do I look?” I ask, adjusting the zipper on my vinyl neckline as we crawl through Los Angeles morning traffic in Travis’ ancient Honda.

“You look like a mad woman, Lelaina. You’re going to creep the guy out.” Travis shakes his head, not moving his eyes from the road.

“He loves Catwoman,” I say.

“Yes, but he’s not going to represent you because you’re dressed like Catwoman.”

“But he will talk to me because he has a thing for Catwoman. Then while I have his attention, I can hand him my script.”

“Why don’t you write a new script instead of prostituting yourself out for this one,” Travis says, turning off Santa Monica Boulevard onto Wilshire.

“I’d still have to get him to read it! I’ve tried all the standard ways. I’m desperate.”

He nods, a little too enthusiastically. A woman once described him as dessert in jeans. On her sixth martini at the time, she didn’t realize he was gayer than a dancing queen. Blonde hair, blue eyes and a my-body-is-a-temple build, understandably she was devastated. According to Travis, I’m unaffected by his perfection because my man hunting skills haven’t hit puberty.

“Travis, I can’t wait on another table. I’m so sick of working at something I hate.”

“You have a law degree, Lelaina. If you wrote the Bar exam, you wouldn’t have to wait tables.”

“But I would never have time to write as a lawyer. If you met my parents you would understand.”

Travis sighs. “This stunt is just a little extreme.”

“Extreme is good. Extreme is how you get noticed.” I tug on my tail to make sure it’s securely sewn on.

“And you are aware that Catwoman never actually had a tail.”

“I know, but I need it.”

Removing his attention from the road, he eyes me. “For what?”

Pretending not to hear, I pull down the vanity mirror and check my make-up. Travis did my eyes like Julie Newmar and I have to say, I clean up good. The suit is painted on, but I’ve got Spanx in all the right places so it looks like I was made to wear vinyl.

“Lelaina?” he says, sounding a little like my mother.

“I’ll let you know when I’m done.”

“I’m already allowing you to dress as some crazed sexual fantasy and give your number to a strange man. What could be worse than that?”

“As my roommate, I don’t think you’re an authority on what I’m allowed to do and it’s not worse than that, but if you’re already judging me, explaining myself won’t make it better. Anyway, I asked you to give me a ride to pump me up. I’m about to make an ass of myself and this isn’t helping... oh wait... this is it! Pull over!”

As we swerve to the curb, my cell phone rings. I glance at the caller ID. It’s my mother. Once a year we speak and she has to call while I’m about to prowl the street dressed as a mental patient.

“Who is it?”

“My mom.”

He raises an eyebrow.

“Should I answer it?” I say.

“Absolutely not.”

“She never calls. It might be important.”

“Lelaina, your mother turns you into a lunatic. Do not answer that phone. You’re a tiger in PVC, darling. Go get ‘em.”

I turn off the ringer. “Thanks. I’ll call you when I’m done.”

He pulls down my front zipper a little. “Maybe give Busey a little more cleavage.”

Script in hand, I get one foot onto the pavement and suddenly feel incredibly stupid. Holy crap. I am insane.

Judgment and awe wash the faces of the Monday morning Beverly Hills crowd as I cross the sidewalk to the LA Times newspaper box in front of the Starbucks where Tom Busey, Hollywood’s hottest agent, buys his coffee every morning. There is a large, hip-height planter between the box and the Starbucks entrance, a minor obstacle that I think I can work around. Otherwise, this is the perfect spot for my plan.

Setting my phone and script on top of the box, I drop a quarter into the coin slot and yank open the door. Carefully placing my tail inside, I slam the box shut, pulling on the fur a little to make sure it’s in good. Genius. Now Busey just has to come by and rescue me.

In an attempt to be casual, I lean an elbow on the box. It is a beautiful morning for a stakeout. The sun is shining and there’s a breeze, so I’m not totally roasting in my PVC. The occasional strong gust of wind may wreak havoc on my hair, but other than that it’s perfect.

Gazing towards the door, I watch people come and go from Starbucks. They gawk and stare, but no Busey. While this is all very embarrassing, I am getting more pleasure than I should out of wearing a superhero costume. If I had a mask, I could do this more often.

There’s a tap on my shoulder and I swivel around as best I can. Two elderly women with sun visors and fanny packs smile at me. One holds up her camera. “Can we get a picture of you?”

“Oh, I’m not really Catwoman,” I say with my eyes glued to Starbucks.

“We’d love a picture anyway,” she gushes. “Do you mind?”

I shrug. “I guess not.”

“I loved Julie Newmar as Catwoman,” she says. “You look just like her.”

The other woman nods her head. “My favorite was Michelle Pfeiffer. She’s lovely.”

Six photo ops and an autograph later, still no Busey. A line has formed inside Starbucks and I missed half the people going in thanks to my fans. I move towards the window to get a peek, pressing my face against the glass. To my horror, I see Busey in line, picking up an LA Times from a table.


What do I do? I could go in and get a coffee, but I don’t have my wallet. Water. I’ll ask for a glass of water. Even if they tell me to beat it, at least I’ll be in the same space as Busey.

Completely forgetting about my tail, I lurch forward. A sonic screeching noise, like nails down a chalkboard via megaphone, pierces the morning buzz as the newspaper box drags along the pavement. Before I realize what’s happening, the box teeters sideways. Suspended for a moment on its corners, it then slams onto the ground, pulling me down to a squat. My script sails through the air towards the entrance. It lands in one piece in front of the door, but with the planter in my way, it’s out of reach. Scrambling, I try to pull the box back up, but with my four-inch heels and awkward crouching position it won’t move. In this moment, it occurs to me that I should have packed an emergency quarter.

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Andrea I said...

This looks like a very entertaining book and I would love to win it.

Unknown said...

I think it's important not to take rejection personally and just keep writing and pursuing publication. Imagine if J K Rowling had given up after her first rejection!

Your book sounds great. Please enter me in the giveaway.


Ruthie said...

This sounds like a great book. Would love to read it.


Teddyree said...

After reading the excerpt I want more! Maya Jax's great attitude and advice regarding rejection is applicable to just about everyone in all situations. Helps to have a sense of humour too :-)

PoCoKat said...

Sounds good...would love to win it!

littleone AT shaw DOT ca