Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Thursdays Children: Inspired by...Rejection?

Thursday's children is a blog meme where writers blog about what inspires them. Click here to find out more and join us!



I know what you're thinking. Dannie has truly and fantastically fallen off the deep end. She's been in the slush for too long, her eyes are bleeding from queries, and well...



There are lots of things to be inspired by, but...rejection? How on earth can having your word babies chewed up and spit out possibly inspire you to keep writing?

Well, a lot of ways. 

Any day of the week and twice on Sunday, a rejection is better than a no-response. We all know that we are not supposed to follow up on queries without good reason, right? Particularly if the agent says on their website that they only respond to queries they're interested in. Which is a perfectly understandable policy in the internet age. Unless you're a writer whose situation becomes a little...grey. Like say you get an offer of representation. Do you assume you're in the "crap I'll never give the time of day" pile? Certainty is always preferable for me. At the end of the day, I just want to know where I stand.

You know you have found an agent who is not the right agent for your manuscript. Even if the agent on paper looks like THE AGENT for your manuscript, or if you cannot imagine a better person to champion your words, if they don't feel the same way, they're not the right agent for your book. Getting a rejection helps you cross that person off the list, let go of the pipe dream (though letting go can involve a lot of crying and wine), and move on. One step closer to finding the agent who really IS right for your manuscript and making your dream come true.

Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, they're right to reject you. We are too close to our words to ever look at them objectively. This is a lesson I learned the hard way with my first and second attempts at publication. The second one, in particular, was tough because that book was (and still is) the book of my heart. But ya know what? Those agents that rejected my word baby were totally and completely right. It wasn't ready. It didn't have a strong enough hook. And the voice? The voice sucked rocks. I kind of pride myself on writing good voice, but I was too close to this particular mss to understand that it was beyond the blandest shade of vanilla. I needed other people--professionals, not just lay folks because I'm too stubborn for that ish--to tell me my writing on that particular project blew goats. That was the only way I was ever going to move on from that book. And I'm glad I did. I may come back to it someday though...But that's a different blog post for a different week. 

Occasionally, a rejection can make you laugh. I woke my husband up the other night laughing at a rejection email that came to my phone...which I keep  bedside because I am a glutton for punishment. 

Hold up, Dannie, did you just say you laughed at a rejection?

Uh-huh. It came from an agent for whom I have the utmost respect and who did me the honor of reading my full mss on a super crunched timeline and with enthusiasm. Not only did the rejection give me concrete, personalized feedback I could take home with me to improve my manuscript, it also included this parting line...
I hope you sell the hell out of it and prove me wrong.

I hope I do, too. 

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. This is true in writing as in life. Writing and publishing are gut-wrenching endeavors. And rightly so. I think it's amazeballs to be able to put your ideas out there and have other people read and respond to your work. Writing is a right. Publishing is a privilege. 

Still, it's painful when that response is negative. It's hard not to take it personally. Especially when it's a form rejection that doesn't offer any hints on how to make it better. But the nice part about the form is it leaves the manner of making it better up to you. A personalized rejection can be good feedback, but it can also be misleading. It's hard when it's personalized to remember that agents are human, too, and that their opinions are just that--their opinions. You may get another agent who loves something the rejecting agent hated about your book. At the end of the day we have to get the hell up, brush ourselves off, and keep writing. Take a little time to lick your wounds, but then remember that you're still here. You still have words. And you'll do what you can to make your manuscript stronger for the next agent comes along. Because if you're not willing to do that, you gotta question why you're in this business to begin with.

So suck it up, buttercup. Learn what you can from rejection and then delete it. You've got writing to do.

What inspiration have you been able to take from rejection?

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13 comments:

  1. I like to believe rejection makes us stronger... but when it happens, it still hurts like hell.

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    1. True. That's why CPs make such good cocktail buddies!

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  2. I definitely improved one of my mss by using helpful feedback provided by a couple of agents who read the full. But you're right, in some cases agents either contradict each other blatantly in terms of what's right/wrong about your ms, or they do so by pointing out completely different areas that left they felt were weak. And yes, if you have an offer, by all means contact the non-responders (at least the ones you REALLY want).

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    1. I had an interesting reaction to doing that, but upon consulting query tracker discovered I was not the only one so I felt better! But absolutely check in! Otherwise you'll never know! I had 2 agents last week thank me for checking in with them before signing.

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  3. Rejection is hard to take, but I agree with you that I'd always rather get a rejection than a non-response. I'm a person who loves closure, so I want to feel like I can cross that agent off my list and move on, not think, "well, maybe she's so busy she just hasn't gotten to my query yet."

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    1. exactly. I think we need closure to maintain some semblance of sanity!

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  4. Thank you for your post. It's easy to think sometimes I'm the only writer out there with a rejection collection.

    When my friend and I were selling coupon books for a nonprofit cause, we had to approach lots of people and pitch the book. Nine people out of ten usually didn't buy. Discouraging, right?

    But my friend said, "Look at the nine no-sell people who come before the tenth yes person as helping you get closer to that yes person."

    I do that with rejections. I thank the no I've received because it puts me that much closer to the yes that I believe is on the horizon. :)

    http://otherworlddiner.blogspot.com/2013/06/inspired-by-friends-new-ideas-and-good.html

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  5. I'm with you about rejection being better than the dark void of silence. When I was querying, that was my least favorite thing, especially from agents who have requested before or have fulls.

    The agent rejection is also good training for the editor submission process which comes later :)

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    1. And then the reader reviews after that!

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  6. I actually had a lot of really great rejection letters that helped me improve my ms before I landed my agent. The ms my now-agent ended up seeing was far superior than the one I started out querying. So, here's to the rejectionists! Thanks for joining us on Thursday's Children!

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  7. Yes, rejection sucks. I think I might be at the same stage as you though, where it doesn't really bother me anymore. Well no, of course it bothers me, but it used to be CRUSHING, and now I understand that it's part of the business. We just have to keep swimming!

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  8. Totally agree :) Suck it up, buttercup.

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