In high school, Joanne Guidoccio dabbled in poetry, but it would be over three decades before she entertained the idea of writing as a career. In 2008, she took an early retirement from teaching and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Before long, Joanne was a working writer; her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. Eventually she progressed to fiction, where she finds that reinvention is a recurring theme in her novels and short stories.
Today, Joanne came by to chat about having the right kind of skin. Rhino skin.
Writers especially will appreciate this:
It behooves you to develop a thicker skin.
Toastmaster Rosalind Scantlebury did not mince words at a recent Table Topics Contest. Responding to the prompt—Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me—she focused on an individual’s responsibility not to take things so personally. She peppered her impromptu talk with provocative comments, among them, “What other people think of you is none of your business.”
Definitely inspiring, especially for writers.
Thirty-one years of teaching adolescents thickened my skin considerably, but I faced different challenges when I embarked on a writing career. I had to learn how to deal effectively with critiques and rejection letters from agents and publishers and, most important of all, acquire that coveted rhino skin.
These are some of the strategies in my toolbox:
Get the Back Story
Whenever I attend readings, I pay special attention to the author’s back story. I like hearing the details about his or her writing journey and the challenges encountered along the way. Occasionally, I pick up valuable nuggets of advice that help me along my own journey. For example, Guelph writer Nicholas Ruddock (The Parabolist) established his platform by entering and placing in short story contests. When New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny couldn’t find a Canadian or American agent, she crossed the pond and approached a British agent.
Read Bad Reviews
If I have enjoyed reading a book, I look up the one-star reviews on Amazon. That’s right, I gravitate toward the negative. While shaking my head at the nitpicking and negative comments, I realize that no author is immune from criticism. Not even authors of best-selling novels can please everyone.
Eliminate the Negative
Some writers file and keep all their rejection letters. I suspect they refer to these letters often and get discouraged all over again. It is important to keep accurate records, but it is not necessary to keep these negative reminders around for future reference. After reading a rejection letter, I update the information on a spreadsheet and delete the file.
Throw More Irons Into the Fire
We’ve all heard the advice. Send out the manuscript and then immediately start on another one. Easier said than done. After writing 70K words and looking at multiple drafts of that manuscript, the thought of starting all over again can be daunting. Instead, I like to work on shorter pieces: book reviews, short stories, articles, more blog posts. Entering contests and taking online writing courses also keep my skills sharp. It is important not to sit around waiting for a response. Some action—any action—is needed.
I belong to Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, Guppies, and Romance Writers of America. I also participate in discussion boards for The Wild Rose Press and Soul Mate Publishing Authors. I try to attend writing workshops, panels and readings offered within a fifty-mile radius. While interacting with these authors, I get valuable advice and feedback about my work. I appreciate all the help I have received, especially from good friend and fellow writer Patricia Anderson. I had only request: “Let it rip!” And she did, but in a constructive way.
From Toronto based freelancer Ian Harvey…
“Rejections are part of the game, but this is the only game in which rejection doesn’t mean no. It means not now, or not for me, or not for me right now. It doesn’t mean no forever.”
Get Joanne’s latest, A Season for Killing Blondes.
And the giveaway: