The only rejection that will kill you as a writer is the one where you reject yourself and your work. That's what you have to guard against.— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) June 17, 2015
I have a line I tell people when someone new asks me about my writing. "I've written fifteen books," I'll say, followed immediately by "Don't be too impressed; most of them sucked." The joke makes it easy to hide my frustration at spending so much of my life trying to make the one thing I want most happen and getting nowhere. But there's another side to it, one I didn't realize until I found the above tweet from Mr. Wendig.
By saying that most of what I've written sucks, I'm rejecting myself. And this has probably kept me from getting anywhere with my writing more than anything else I've done.
Out of those fifteen books, at least five of them I've never shown to anyone. Books I trunked as soon as I wrote the last sentence, or reread after a month or two and decided they didn't work, or any of a number of other reasons. And all but one of the rest are stories I gave up on at one point or another. Maybe I lost faith in them, or got some less-than-positive feedback and decided they sucked, so on and so forth. There are good reasons to let books go, I think; querying BoLR for six months and ~100 agents showed me that, no, this thing was not going to happen. But that's the farthest I've gone with any book.
Because there's always a point where I just plain give up. Where I decide that no, this isn't worth it, this isn't good enough. I can do better on the next book, I tell myself. And so I start the same process all over again.
Part of the problem with this is that it makes it much easier to quit and start something new. Hell, I've had to convince myself multiple times to keep going with STARWIND at least far enough to get it to readers, rather than just shrug it off as another failure and try again. Getting rejected so many times makes it a lot easier to start doing it to myself.
And as much as I know that won't get me anywhere, it's very hard to stop.
I don't know of any good way to fight against this. There's only so much positivity I can try to generate, and my reserves of that have been growing lower and lower over the years. Stubbornness works sometimes, but it's far too easy to slip from that into grumpiness, and that does no good. Tenacity seems like all I have left sometimes, but even that coin has two sides - "Keep trying with this book" easily flips over to "Try again with a new one".
Thus, we've reached the part where I ask for advice. Have the rest of y'all dealt with this sort of thing? How do you handle it? And how did you overcome it?