Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rejection = Working Writer? Maybe ... but it's a hard sell!

Two years ago, I attended an Oregon SCBWI conference and heard one of the presenters (a published author) say she loved getting rejections because it proved she was still working. At the time, I was new to the industry and thought it a bit counterintuitive. If I remember correctly, "Huh..." was my in-my-head-not-uttered-out-loud reaction.

So ... two years later, I've received a number of those infamous rejection letters, and I have to say, I do not find them the slightest bit endearing, pleasing, or motivating. In fact, I've found they have a way of sending my stomach into fits and ruining my entire day ... which then makes me a bit wistful for my prior corporate life of regular paychecks, fabulous health coverage, and a pension plan.

Can you tell I received a rejection yesterday?

I tend to look at many things through rose-colored glasses ... and I've tried, with rejections, to grant them the same response of the author noted above. To no avail. Granted, rejections do accomplish a number of things ... they are humbling; they make you appreciate little successes all the more; and they are a fabulous test of perseverance. But, in no way, shape, or form are they proving to me that I'm still working. A contract, however, would accomplish that for me.

The rejection I received yesterday was a bit more devastating than those that have come before it. Last year, I made it to the 'final round', I'll call it, with a publisher ... I was one of the last manuscripts standing after 7 long months of elimination rounds (my term, not theirs!). Two weeks before Christmas, as I was wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin' ... plannin' and dreamin' (sorry, those Ani Defranco lyrics just popped into my head!), I received an e-mail that they had agonized over the decision and decided not to go with my book. Ughhh ... not what I'd wished for from Santa.

I LOVE this publisher ... I adore their books, and I admire the way they communicate quickly and continually with their potential authors ... via e-mail! And, I so wanted to work with them. Early this year, a new book idea - that fit this particular publisher's genre - made its way to my head. And, I've been working on it ever since ... writing it with this publisher in mind. So, after writing and editing and polishing and editing and cutting and polishing ... and then fighting the paranoia that seems to accompany me sending anything to any publisher even after I've researched it to death, I've been rejected.

So, today ... I'm trying to look at my rejection as proof that I'm still out there working ... writing, researching, editing, perfecting, learning. I have to admit, though, my glasses on this one are still a bit grimy.


Serenity said...

Ug, I'm afraid I have the same problem. Rejections feel like someone finally willing to tell me what everyone else already knows. You're good, but not good enough. The acceptances, though, always make me feel that I tricked someone somehow. You have to keep going though! It's very obvious you're meant to do this. If you'll hang in there, I will!

I met a sweet author once named Melanie Chrismer - have you heard of her? She had several books published but got a rejection during the conference she was speaking at. Even she had to go through the negative thoughts of whether or not she was meant to do this. My favorite advice from her was this: Write because you love it. So that's what I'm determined to keep doing, forever, whether I ever get published or not. :)

I really think, though, that perseverance will earn its reward. Try another publisher with that same book. There are lots of great publishers out there. God bless Kelly!

Kelly H-Y said...

I haven't heard of Melanie Chrismer ... I'll have to look her/her books up. Thanks so much for your kinds words, Serenity! It's so nice to have someone at a similar stage in this process ... who understands! Yes, I'll hang in there too ... and someday, the perseverance will pay off for both of us!

PJ Hoover said...

Even with a lemons-to-lemonade attitude, getting a rejections hurts and sucks. There's no getting past it. That said, to kind of agree with the other author, I saw a neat quote from Michael Jordan this morning:
"I have failed over and over again in my life. And that's precisely why I succeed."
My new game I play when I get seemingly negative news is say, "this is the best thing that happened to me because..." and fill in the blank.
But yeah, it still hurts.

PJ Hoover said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention, the last bit of seemingly negative news I got, it took me about five days until I could fill in the blank. But then I found the answer.

Kelly H-Y said...

Great advice, PJ (and Michael Jordan!!) ... so true! And, I like your game ... I'm definitely going to try that approach! Thanks so much!