Daily Archives: February 15, 2010

On Writing and Rejection

Some people dream of being a published author. They eat, sleep, and breath it. They die a million deaths every time a rejection crosses their paths. Me? Not so much. Oh sure, I’m dissapointed, but then I think I would pass out from shock the moment someone said “Yes.” Low self esteem? Maybe, after all its a little hard to believe that your writing can hold its own among published greats. High dose of reality? Probably. Afraid that if I admit that if I think (or heaven forbid say aloud) my writing is decent, or even (looks around nervously and then continues in a hushed whisper) good I sound conceited and full of myself? Most definitely.

I love to write. I always have, but honestly, I never thought I could actually write a book (let alone nearly 3). Not, that is, until I found out about National Novel Writing Month where you attempt a fifty thousand word book in a month. I had been wanting to try for a long time, I had ideas bouncing about my head for years of what I would do and how I would do it. So I put away my poems, and my never quite finished short stories and began to write. I was rather amazed at how quickly it came together and I loved watching the story be born. When the month was over and I had completed my first ever novel I printed it, took a picture of it, and hid it. I was terrified of how terrible it would be, and editing it was just plain overwhelming. So, I ignored it and continued to write little piddly things to share for writing group while I studied books, blogs, and articles on how to write better.

Then Christine moved into our town and joined my writing group. We decided to start critiquing more and I timidly brought out my manuscript from hiding. It was rough, it needed a lot of work, but I quickly discovered editing wasn’t quite so overwhelming and chapter by chapter it began to really take shape. I also learned I wasn’t awful like I had feared. She started talking publishing and I simply stared at her in awe. Me? Attempt to publish? Ahhh… go on. How could I possibly write as well as all those names on all those books on my bookshelves?

I mulled over the thoughts for a while. If I was going to write, I may as well try to publish something. Why not? Well, why not indeed. Since then I have completed a second novel, and am mostly through a third. I’m still not published and my stack of rejections is growing happily taller, but I also recently had my first full manuscript request.

So, what do I do to make it through the rejections as they pile up in my email and on my desk? Well, frankly, I don’t expect them to say yes. Oh, I hope someone will, someday, but I don’t expect it. I also remind myself that it isn’t personal and if an agent doesn’t think my book is a good fit, then I am glad they passed on it – I wouldn’t want a half-hearted agent after all. Then there is the matter that all these agents have specific things they are looking for, lists to fill, or maybe they picked up a similar book recently. So, I try not to take the rejections personally and plod ahead anyway. It’s not easy. I’ll admit to crying occasionally, or sighing at my email and wondering, “why am I putting myself through this?” and I have to remind myself, “because someday someone might just say yes.” Then, on those days when I am feeling particularly sorry for myself I sternly scold, “you can’t complain until you hit triple digits.”

There is always a thrill when I see an email sitting in my writing account and I think “Maybe today is the day,” and there is always a little thud when I see that it isn’t. But, I would rather soar and thud then never soar at all, and that is why I continue to send in those queries, and who knows, maybe someday I’ll be on a bookshelf in somebody’s home.

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