in which i ruminate on rejection

(in response to the rejectionist’s call for essays detailing WHAT FORM REJECTION MEANS TO ME)

so, as the old saying goes, anyone can be a writer. a person simply has to sit down (or stand, if they lean towards that persuasion) and put words to paper (or computer, but let’s not nitpick). but it really takes a special someone to attempt to be a published author, because to do so, it means building up an immunity to being rejected.

i remember reading, some time ago, an article in which sparkly vampire creating stephenie meyer claims she sent out only eight query letters, and, of course, got signed to an agent with the last one out (to which the majority of us all say, wut?). conversely, shannon hale practically brags about her massive list of rejections, which she’s conveniently laminated to remind herself (and possibly the foolish agents who rejected her) that she’s made it.

so when it came time to send out my first round of queries, i told myself that i shouldn’t take it personally when i get rejected, because every author goes through this. yet, when my first rejection came in (by the very quick nathan bransford), i felt the bitter pangs of disappointment.

and hurt.

and the belief that, oh god, my writing must SUCK, because it took him all of forty minutes after the start of work on a monday morning to reject me.

then six more no thank you, i’m not the agent for yous rolled in, and with each one i felt more and more disappointed in myself, because the truth was, every single one came as a form rejection.

which, if you think about it, is possibly the worst kind of rejection you can get. because it means, as a writer who put their heart and soul into a book, and then struggled to craft a query (which, c’mon all, you know is fifty times harder than writing said book), you didn’t even warrant a few minutes of personalized connection. instead, someone (most likely not even the agent) spends approximately two seconds quickly typing in the rejectee’s name and then presses send.

the husband once asked to see one of these form rejections. “do you think they even read your sample?” he asked.

i felt fairly good that i had the right answer when i said, “not a word.”

however, when the crushing disappointment fades, and time passes during which revisions are done and new queries are written, a new conclusion can be arrived at. yeah, the work may suck. yeah, i may not have warranted a minute of that agent’s time. but those rejections also mean i’ve taken the steps to making my writing dreams a reality. i know so many people who tell me, once they hear i’m a writer, that they’re writers, too.

interesting that none of them have ever sent out a single query. their works, whatever they may be, are languishing in obscurity. maybe it’s because those writers don’t have the time to write up a query. maybe it’s because they fear the rejection. maybe it’s because writing in only a hobby, not a passion.

rejected or no, i can now say that i’m chasing the dream.

maybe during the next round, or the next after that, i’ll get some legitimate personalization in my rejections. until then, i’ll take the form rejection. i’ll hate it, but i’ll remember to look to shannon hale for inspiration. i’ve kept every single email so far telling me that tells me no. someday, maybe i’ll be lucky enough to print them out, laminate them, and feel like i paid my dues.

for those of you reading my blog and wondering where the heck the tunes are, here’s a video for you about keeping your chin up in the face of consistent disappointment (courtesy of flight of the conchords, “formerly New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo”):

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