Your rejection is my motivation

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When I was thinking about writing this post, a well-known song by Elton John came into my head, but the words morphed into something my writer brain could comprehend – “Rejection Seems to be the Hardest Word”. If you replace the word sad in Elton’s song with the word rejection, this could be the anthem for anyone who has written a novel and sent their words out into the world, only to receive an email response with the fateful line, ‘it’s not what I’m looking for”, or, “I just couldn’t connect with the story, but best of luck’.

Writing is hard. Ernest Hemingway described it best when he said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Over the last four years, I have completed almost three novels and self-published one of those stories, and I can tell you, no truer words have ever been spoken. A forensics team could analyze my laptop and find copious amounts of blood spatter and chronologically date those samples to match the past four years of my writing.

The idea of writing a novel is romantic. Composing a story that has characters with depth, a storyline that is exciting and has enough twist and turns to keep the reader engaged is terrifying. Every plot twist is subject to days of overthinking the idea. Characters constantly interrupt your train of thought to ask you to tell the story their way. And every great idea you have for your book on Tuesday night, sounds like absolute rubbish on Wednesday morning. Welcome to writing.

When I first began to query agents, I went into the process like every new writer does, fresh faced and full of hope that I had just written the next best seller. But the melting pot of reality takes you piece by piece until you vaguely resemble the hopeful person you were when you spent days putting together the perfect pitch. Some make it over the hurdles to the finish line, but most do not.

This is not where my story ends, but where it begins. Those rejections were my motivation to keep going and find other ways to share my words. One, two, even fifty agents opinions do not have the power to tell me my book is not good enough. The words I read in their email responses, if I even got one, were that my story was not a good fit for them. It did not mean my story would not connect with readers, and through self-publishing, that connection has been established and well-received.

I can only dream as I move further into what I hope will be my writing career to keep the faith I have in my writing, and always believe my writing voice will have ears that are eager to listen to the stories I have to tell.

There has to be some fun in rejection

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Although my quest continues to find a literary agent for my first novel, rejections can be extremely disheartening. I am not giving up, by any means, but merely trying to maintain a sense of humor through a very lengthy process.  Please feel free to read the post below to the tune of The Sounds of Silence.

~~

The Sound of Querying

Hello rejection, my old friend

I’ve come to tolerate you again

Because revisions softly creeping

Left their seeds while I was sleeping

And the edit that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the bounds of rewrites

~

In restless dreams my plot was formed

All my characters were transformed

Into people I would love to know

Except the serial killer, he can go

The words came  to me in the wee hours of the night

I couldn’t write

I hoped my phone was recording

~

And in the morning light I heard

Two or three hundred added words

Words I don’t remember speaking at all

I’m glad my smart phone has voice recall

I was recording things while I was practically asleep

My thoughts were deep

I knew I had to query

~

Fool, said I, you do not know,

Agents like the answer NO

Without reading your full manuscript

The whole story, they completely skipped

And my words, were never fully read, but instead

They landed on the bottom of the slush pile

~

Beta readers said it’s great

Into a movie it should be made

But you’re not allowed to tell agents that

You can only hope they want to chat

And the sad thing, although I was told my writing was outstanding

It still means nothing

It just echoes in the sounds of querying

Handling rejection like a boss!

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I am a people pleaser.  I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb asking the medical staff if there was anything I could do for them.  I invariably want to go out of my way to make sure everyone is happy, but my ambitious goal is not necessarily always an attainable goal.  In the words of John Lydgate, later adapted by President Lincoln, ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’.

As a young writer, back in my grade school days, I was afraid to let people read my poetry for fear they would not like it.  That same phobia applied to my poems and short stories through high school and college.  Writing, for me, is the biggest part of myself and I used to feel that if people didn’t like my writing, they were somehow rejecting ME.  It wasn’t until I began the process of seeking an agent or a publisher that I began to truly understand how rejection makes us stronger.

I received my most recent rejection last night.  It was a curt line that simply said, “Thanks for submitting, but I’m afraid this one isn’t for us. ”  Instead of feeling unsettled by such a quick and negative response, the thought in my head was more of understanding that my book was not a true fit for their collection.  I wasn’t sad.  I was merely determined to continue the quest to find an agent that would best be suited for ME and not the other way around.

Writing a book is not for the faint of heart.  Hemingway said it best when he quipped, “There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  My blood is now the ink on the pages that I crafted.  My skin is much thicker now than it was and I am more than prepared to deal with my overwhelming share of the writing world’s brush-off.  Those abrupt dismissals are the constant in the ‘writer seeking publishing’ equation and I am prepared to rework the problem until I come up with an acceptable answer.

To bastardize Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar acceptance speech, “They don’t like me. Right now, they don’t like me.”   And I’m okay with that because, someday, that will change.