It's such an ugly little word, isn't it? Rejection. Stamped on an envelope or written into email, etched into the heart of a jilted lover or littering your childhood memories. Rejection is a part of life that most of us would rather do without. Especially writers.
I read an article about rejection today and it brought up my experiences with the nasty little bugger. You know, poor little Seers of Light was more often shunned than not in the beginning. And this was just based on a query letter, a point which could have driven me mad, but I had to get used to this kind of thing pretty darn fast.
In the beginning, you have an idealistic viewpoint, a real naive belief that you'll query your dream agent/publisher and they will respond immediately with the very best news ever. Rejection? What is this? You buy that fresh Writer's Market handbook, highlight and underline and draw squares and circles around the perfect matches. You research e-submission guidelines with care, and then you send out your envelopes and packages, prep your email queries and hold you breath while hitting send. You sit back and wait for the magic to happen...
Then you get kicked in the gut... repeatedly and with great indifference.
"I'm sorry, but, this is just not what we're looking for right now."
"Your story does not meet our needs at this time."
"Your book wouldn't be a good match for our agency."
"Though your story sounds fascinating, it would not be a good fit for our company."
And so on, and so forth.
And we take it so personally, don't we? At least at first. But, if you're smart and serious about this writing gig, then on and on and on you go, improving, digging up new agents, resubmitting, swimming in rejections all the while trying to somehow resist the urge to erase every single page of everything you have every written in a dramatic scene that involves a baseball bat, a computer and a drop from a second story window.
Okay, maybe not so overboard as that, but you get my drift. How do you field mounds of rejections and still keep your spirits, your love of writing and your dreams alive? Truthfully, part of what saves you is a thick skin, and you will develop it in time. In fact, if you are truly serious about a writing career, a thick skin is a must. But I don't want that to cause you to shut your heart off in the mean time. Your heart is what makes your writing worthwhile, so don't build an iron gate around the very thing that will really sell your work in the end.
I still have to repel rejection, you know. I have a few books published, but there are plenty of people out there who have never read my novels, who would dislike them based upon marketed genre alone. Actually, now that I've got The Light Series kicking, I'm in the market for an agent, myself, so I'm sure I'll run into good old Mr. R. Ejection again.
It's not so horrible, really, to be turned down sometimes. That process callouses your ego early enough to strengthen your resolve and remind you of what's important. It also results in needed improvements that you wouldn't necessarily be aware of without said rejections. I'll offer you an example. The very best advice I ever received came as a result of an agent who actually critiqued the first few chapters of Seers before rejecting it. Said agent told me that if I tightened up my dialogue, I'd have a first rate manuscript. This advice was the spoonful of sugar that helped the rejection go down, and it really did teach me an important lesson. It also added to my belief that everything is for a reason. Every step is needed, every interaction precious.
The second best advice I've gotten was the following, and it came from an author: The difference between those who succeed and those who fail is simple. Persistence. Stubbornness. Relentless hope. This process...publication...it's not an easy road for anyone. The vast majority of us who actually find a publisher have thoroughly worked our nooks and crannies of possibility, have made contacts and gotten our work into the hands of someone who cares to give it a chance. It's not just about submitting and waiting. It's about keeping your eyes opened, and more importantly, your MINDS opened, because you never know which dock your ship will crash into. I'm sure lucky the stars aligned in the right place with the right people. And I'm glad I took a brave step and went with an indie publisher. This has given me a huge appreciation for writing itself, and it's taught me more about marketing than I ever thought I'd know! I'm also glad I didn't toss out my manuscript with the first rejection letter.
No, I wasn't going down so easily. I knew in my heart that I wanted Seers in print more than anything else in the world, and I wasn't taking no for an answer. If you believe in your own story this much, don't you give up, either. Work it and improve it and perfect it and grow with the process, and enjoy every day for the gifts it brings. Rejections included.
So, what about your experiences? Are you drowning in frustration? Let it out. I'll sing you a song and feed you cookies and we'll keep on trucking down the road together. Tell me all about it.