As a writer, rejection is a process we use to get our best thougts on paper. We reject our own sentences over better formed ones, we toss out paragraphs when they send the story in the wrong direction, and we dismiss ideas before we type them into the plot. Then, why, do we still cringe when we hear the word rejection? We've been rejecting ideas throughout the whole experience, trying to get our story just right.
No one wants to be rejected, or told what they are offering is not needed, not wanted and simply put, not acceptable. And I admit there is nothing quite so devastating as a personal rejection. On paper, a distance exists, but up close when the other person is only a few feet away ... it's a powerful punch to the self-esteem.
It's also a great learning tool. It's a time to learn about yourself. A rejection letter may send you into a slump, but if you're any kind of writer, you dig in, and get busy searching for another avenue to promote your work. And if you've been around the block a few times, you realize sending out more than one at a time is smart business. But if someone sits across a table and says your work is not marketable, you have a few choices to make.
First, I hope you remain polite and professional. Listening is also wise, but caving in to the beliefs of others is NOT acceptable. Your work is unique, only you could have written what is in your manuscript. Please don't let someone's dismissal leave you feeling inadequate as a writer. This is where you don't read any more into the conversation than what has been said. Your work is not acceptable to THEM. It doesn't mean your work is worthless. Every writer has struggled with this concept on some level and each of us has to come to terms that it only takes one YES to prove the others all wrong.
As you've probably garnered, my ten minute pitch last week went in a direction I didn't expect. We chatted, we connected well with each other, and I knew I had done my homework as best I could in researching this agency. I knew the agents liked historicals. But I hadn't figured on a lack of enthusiasm for a pre-civil war novel. I didn't expect an instant approval, but a mailed query would have at least been read, the flavor of my work would have been noted. But that didn't happen.
No amount of research on my part had prepared me for this glip in their pursuit of historical manuscripts. So with an exchange of business cards, and despite the rejection, I left with valuable knowledge ... pre-civil war novels are not hot right now. Is that distrubing? Oh, yes. Will that stop my searching for representation?
Nope! As a matter of fact, when I got home last week, I sat down at my computer and read the tiny little plaque that sits on my shelf. I read it every day. I believe the author is Robert Frost. Here it is:
"Do not follow where the path may lead ~ Go instead, where there is no path, and leave a trail."
So, pre-civil war novels aren't popular right now. Maybe I can change that. Yes, I learned something very important at that meeting across the table. I learned I'm made of pretty tough stuff and ... giving up is not an option.
Til next time ~
DL will be in Springfield on Friday, Oct. 12 ~ at the Illinois Library Association Author Appreciation Luncheon, in Salon CD of the President Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center. A book signing will follow, where her two books, Memories Trail, and Promises To Keep, will be available for purchase.