Sunday, November 22, 2009

Guest Blogger: Cathy Holton


My fear of rejection kept me from submitting my work for almost twenty years. Now when I talk to college creative writing classes I tell them, Don’t be like me; Don’t be afraid to submit your work; Don’t be afraid of criticism or rejection.

My son’s college punk band wrote a song with the hook, Here’s a thought; it’s just a thought. Go %@#! yourself! Now whenever I read a bad review, I sing this. Repeatedly. After that I log onto Amazon and read the bad reviews of some book I think is very well-written, a masterpiece, because this proves my point: no matter how good a writer you are, no matter how dedicated and conscientious and precise, there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like your work. Get over it. (Martinis help).

I do think that having someone you trust read your work is important, especially during the early stages of your writing career. But be selective. Know ahead of time what your reader likes to read (or write) because if you’re writing a thriller, it probably isn’t a good idea to give it to someone who likes to read (or write) romances. I’m generalizing here, of course. There are many readers (and writers) who cross genres all the time but you at least need to know something about their preferences and background before you hand over your precious creative endeavor.

And I don’t think it’s a good idea to show your work to a lot of people. If you’re lucky, you have one or two readers who you can trust to give you honest feedback. If you’re really, really lucky you have an agent and editor who can do this for you.

The main thing to remember about being a writer is to be persistent. You have to not let anything get in the way of the work; not fear of rejection, not laundry, not self-doubt, not procrastination. I get emails all the time from people who write, I think I can be a writer! What do I need to do first – write an outline, or just start writing? And I tell them, just start writing. Write everyday. Write when you’re sick, when you’re tired, when you’re hung over. It isn’t a glamorous job. If you don’t like spending a lot of time alone in a room dressed in your pajamas, you probably should do something else.

George Singleton, in his marvelous book Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds; Indispensable Wisdom and Cautionary Advice for Writers, writes – “Every writer who was meant to write, and who continues writing over a long period of time, will succeed.”

Words to live by.

Cathy Holton lives in the mountains of Tennessee. She is the author of Beach Trip, Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes and Secret Lives of the Kudzu Debutantes, all available through Ballantine/Random House books. Her fourth novel, Old Money, is due out in the fall of 2010. Visit her online at and read her blog, The Surly Wench Journal at


Anonymous said...

I've read all your books. What a treat to see your blog.

yarnbuck said...

“Every writer who was meant to write . . ."

And there's the trick. Am I MEANT and SENT - or did I just WENT :(

Susan Whitfield said...

Cathy, I absolutely loved Revenge. My husband is an avid hunter who goes across the country to hunt in the fall. I certainly could relate to much of the book. I laughed until tears soaked my shirt. Keep up the good work and come over and interview on my blog when you have time. Thanksgiving blessings to all!