I don’t really know where this is going, but I’ve been thinking, and thinking leads to me wanting to write stuff down. So I thought I’d just roll with the topic of rejection and see where we end up. (If we end up in therapy, well, at least we’ll all be there together, right?)
There’s been a heap of stuff on my Twitter feed about rejection lately. There always is, but…I don’t know, maybe it’s the season or the weather…it just seems that some of you guys aren’t handling it as well as normal. I’m not for a second suggesting that you should or even could handle rejection well. Rejection is like a sucker punch to the spleen, it can shake the firmest of foundations. What I am saying is that recently the tweets I see about being rejected are accompanied by statements about giving up writing altogether, followed closely by declarations of zero self worth, and this just makes me want to hug the life out of you.
I wanted this post to be charged with positive messages like, don’t give up, there is still light at the end of the tunnel, subjectivity, personal taste ect… But then I started to worry (I do that a lot, about everything) that you guys would think that was disingenuous, that these are such easy things for me to say when I’m not in the query trenches. I’m guilty of doing that, and feeling that way. This time last year I was reading tweets by agents/editors that amounted to rejection is hard for us too. And honestly, my first thought would be, it can’t possibly be as hard for you as it is for me because the dream job you’re doing just shot my dream job in cold blood. I’m sure some of you are thinking wow, this chick was bitter. You’d be right, I was, right up until I got a glimpse of rejection from the other side.
I was trying to figure out how I could convince you that the positive reinforcement I’m about to spew , agent or not, is completely sincere. There’s only one way I can think of and that’s by telling you how it feels to send a rejection. So, for the last 10 months I’ve been interning at a small publishers. My official title is submissions coordinator. What that means is that I put all the info for every query we receive into a spreadsheet, sort manuscripts into folders and make requests! I also have to send rejections. (Don’t worry. Everything I send out is based on what our highly experienced editors tell me.)
Hitting the send button on an email I know is going to upset someone, makes me feel like shit. My insides curl, I get hot and anxious. I have to check my spelling twenty times because I don’t want you to think I’m being disrespectful by spelling the name of your story wrong. I send during the week because I’m conscious of ruining someone’s weekend. I don’t copy and paste names from queries, I type out every one because it feels more personal. Granted, it’s no secret that I’m a little soft and squishy around the edges. I remember when we were first discussing creating this blog and The Vampire was all no rainbows or unicorns, and my fluffy, pink, cried-when-my-goldfish-died soul crumbled a little. Regardless, it’s so hard to tell someone that, for whatever reason, their manuscript isn’t a good match — and I’m just the messenger. I don’t even have to make the decision to reject, I just press the damn send button on the email. I’m not trying to tell you guys that I take it harder or even as hard as you do when you get a rejection from me. I don’t think I do, I don’t think that’s possible. But what I have discovered is that when an agent/editor tells you that it was a hard decision or that they can sympathize with how hurt you’re feeling, or that they wish you luck in placing your books elsewhere, as empty as you might feel the sentiment is, I can vouch that it’s not.
I really hope that in telling you guys this it reinforces my sincerity when I say please don’t give up writing based on a rejection — based on fifty rejections — no one thinks you are incapable. You are not bad at what you do, it’s just that for some reason that you will eventually figure out, your book didn’t quite fit. That doesn’t mean it’s never going to fit anywhere. It doesn’t mean that at all. You are not suddenly the crappest writer on the planet when your story isn’t right for an agent/editor. You write because you love telling stories don’t let a minor bump in the road kill your passion. That would be tragic. You can do this, and you will do it. In fact, the only reason you won’t be able to do this is if you stop trying. That’s it. That’s what I wanted to tell you!
Anyway, I’m always around for a chat about queries and pages! Give me a shout, if I can help, I absolutely will!
You’ve got this…