Since I mentioned this to Jon in the comments yesterday, I thought I'd talk about it here, as well.
I'm currently recommending a Manga called BAKUMAN to everyone I know (even "mundanes") because, even if you only think of Manga as those weird backwards-reading graphic novels with people with giant eyes, BAKUMAN might be a good one to try because, IMHO, it's much more accessible to anyone--though specifically people who want to be writers.
BAKUMAN starts as the story of two young Japanese middle school boys who dream of publishing their own Manga. It's a slow enough process that they don't really start to realize this dream until they're graduated from high school. But, what I love most about the story is how both realistic it is to the publishing industry (with allowances for some cultural/genre differences) and how deeply inspirational it is.
What's so inspirational about it, you ask? Well, for one, our heroes get a boatload of rejections. Every time they get ahead a step they get knocked back two. They get series placed in Shonen Jump only to watch it fail miserably. They do this again and again and again and, here's the important bit: THEY NEVER GIVE UP.
In my opinion, that's the only true way to survive as a working writer.
I got another proposal rejected yesterday.
I could cry about it, but I'm actually kind of pumped to get back in the saddle and try out another, BETTER idea. Having that thought made me feel like I was a character in BAKUMAN. In a very Japanese moment, when I got the rejection notice from my agent, I felt like writing back and hitting the all-caps to shout that I'll "do my best!" (which I swear someone yells in every single Manga I've ever read) on the next attempt.
So I'm off to DO MY BEST today. Wish me luck!