The Inevitable Rejection

Posted on March 28, 2010. Filed under: Manuscript Submission, Musings | Tags: , , |

I’ve trumped up topic after topic with no success. Everything is either too boring, too cliche, too overdone, or too much information for me to wade through. I’ve rejected every last bit of it with nary a look back.

And that’s only in topics to post about today.

Holly Lisle? Seen posts and forum topics on her amazing website for ages. I’ve joined her email list, but I haven’t begun to browse the website and don’t have any opinion on it yet.

Absolute Write? Well, I haven’t even joined there, so I definitely have no opinion on that.

Post about another blog? I would, but I’m not sure how much linkage I want to do today, and I don’t think I’d do any blog justice if I were to do that.

Review a book? I could, but then what would I do during the week? Besides, I haven’t finished reading The Luxe or If I Perish yet, and those are the only two books I’m currently reading.

Each idea is tossed, trashed, thrown out to be burned.

Just like that novel you submitted to the agent six months ago.

You lovingly crafted it. Every painstaking moment was filled with anticipation. You outlined the plot, wrote the vital stats on all your characters, developed the world they would inhabit, and then the writing began. You chose from a myriad of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and *gasp!* even adverbs. Each chapter was an adventure, each scene was a dance. The words sometimes flowed, sometimes stalled.

Eventually you passed that dangerous place called the introduction where the majority of aspiring novelists would give up. But not you. Your story begged and pleaded for a life of its own, and you breathed that life into the pages you filled. The intro melted into the exposition; exposition churned into climax; climax fell into denouement. Before you knew it, the ending filled the last pages.

It was breathtaking. This creation that only you could have written was worth every moment of worry that the main character was going to get himself killed, every time you ripped your hair out in frustration at a scene that didn’t end quite right, every chance you took on deviating from the original plan. Now it was complete.

Now it was time to edit.

Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. First drafts became second, seconds became thirds. Adverbs were plucked with care. Verbs modified to express more action. The plethora of nouns and pronouns were worked seamlessly into the drafts, and continuity errors were fixed.

Six drafts later, your baby was all grown up and ready to get a job.

Lovingly you searched for those agents that would treat your baby with care. You vetted the lists and vetoed the ones who were not accepting unsolicited manuscripts, were focusing on non-fiction for now, were on hiatus in their work. You searched and breathed agents and guidelines for days.

When you finished, you broke into the sweet smile of success. All this work, all the preparation had led to this moment. Putting the finishing touches on the query letter, you submitted it to the agents in your list. Perhaps one requested a query with the first three chapters, the other an excerpt, and several only a query. Either way, you followed the rules to the letter, went through the proper channels, and submitted your baby for the first big interview.

One or two responded with outright rejections, but it didn’t matter. It burned, but they only had a query synopsis to go on. You knew they wouldn’t understand true genius from a mere synopsis. It would take a little more effort for them to see how truly exceptional your writing was.

One requested a partial. You warmed to the idea, sent the partial, and counted the days to a response. The interest was there. Your heart beat as you opened the email from the agent. The coveted request for a full manuscript was finally in your inbox. With all haste you attached the final draft and sent it off to the agent.

Rejected. A personal note but still a rejection. And on this beautiful work of art you created by hand and made certain was almost error-proof. Your heart sank, and a few tears stung at your eyes as you balled up your fists.

I spent the night rejecting ideas. They flitted through my brain and back out again without consequence. It’s not with the same care that an agent goes into in picking out the next book he’ll try to sell, but it’s with the care of knowing that I have an audience and want to write with some clarity to those people who read these humble posts of mine.

A novel and a blog post spawn from ideas. The funny thing about ideas? They don’t care if you reject them. That novel your favorite agent turned down? It had no opinion on the woman, even if you thought she was giving a cop-out excuse by saying she wasn’t certain it would sell well to your target market. The idea to write a post about Holly Lisle? It doesn’t mind a delay for me to make an opinion on her site.

Rejection is, unfortunately, a fact of life. I haven’t experienced the crushing rejection of an agent saying my manuscript needs work, lacks believable characters, or simply doesn’t cut muster yet. I am, however, expecting it.

And I’m also preparing for it. Unless an agent directly takes an author to task on a personal level what that agent is rejecting is the writing, which is an idea. So when I get that inevitable rejection, despite the fact it will hurt, I’ll simply remind myself the agent was rejecting my idea, not me.

It never gets easier, even on a personal level. But it does help to dissect what a person is rejecting, and this is true for personal and writing rejections. Once again, it’s true that there’s always something to learn from a situation, even if that situation is rejection.

Anyway, I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to post this, but I do hope it made sense. How do you cope with rejection? I’d love to know.



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2 Responses to “The Inevitable Rejection”

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The best way to cope with rejection?…. Is there a best way?

I would say be honest with yourself. If you’re lucky enough to get an agent to tell you *why* they passed, read it carefully. I had one agent do that for my manuscript and it helped my query tremendously. Still, I ultimately didn’t get representation…

Also, know that one “No” shouldn’t deter you. But eighty “Nos” means you need to really look over your manuscript again.

In addition to re-examining your manuscript, know the only way to get better is by getting feedback. I know every writer thinks they’re an immaculate genius, but take a few moments to temper your ego and listen to others. In my experience it’s good and bad. Some people just live to tear you down and others want to see you improve(although it’s tough love).

But whatever you do, don’t stop. Try to improve what you can.

That’s the way I deal with rejection, of course only after throwing a pity party with tea and my dog Mac….

This was a really great post Rae. Reading it made me feel as though I started the “query” process for the first time. It certainly describes the roller coaster I went through.


Until recently, I’d only submitted one story that was accepted into an anthology, so I’m working on learning to deal with rejection. I just started submitting my other short fiction, so I’m waiting to hear back and it’s nerve racking!

I suspect that I won’t handle rejection well, that its something I need to work on. I don’t seem to have much problem with total strangers reading my work, but with my husband or a IRL friend I’m always absolutely terrified.

Yes, I’m taking pills now to help me grow a backbone.

I don’t know the best way to cope with rejection. I generally don’t take criticism very well, because I take it personally. I think its just something that you work on the more you’re exposed to it.And hopefully, you learn (you meaning me) to take the criticism and turn it into something positive to improve your work.

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