Rejection hurts. We all know that! We are rejected in many ways throughout our lives. Ever develop a huge crush on someone, only to find out that the object of your affection was about as attracted to you as they might be to a jellyfish, a random pebble on the street, or a blob of mustard on your shirt?
Ever work extra hard on a school assignment, forgoing favorite TV shows or hanging out with friends because you were so determined to excel, then find you'd earned a nice, bland B grade? Or a C?
Have you ever spent months working on the rough draft of a novel, then many more months revising, revising, revising? And then, after that, have you ever spent perhaps more than a year attending writing conferences and workshops, and had writing group friends read and give feedback and suggestions, then continue to make even more changes to your manuscript?
THEN, have you ever spent about eighteen months sending query letter after query letter to literary agents, hoping and praying that one of them would see something worthwhile in your novel, and maybe, just MAYBE want to represent you? Only to receive rejection after rejection after rejection....
I have, and it's painful! Why? Because when a writer sends out queries, she is sending out the results of countless hours of effort, but not only that. When I send out my work, I am sharing a piece of my soul. I'm not exaggerating, here! Your novel, no matter how short or long, comes from somewhere deep inside, and when you put it on display for others to read, you are in a way baring your soul to the world. It's like you've taken a metaphorical knife, sliced off a bit of the very essence of your being, and stuck it on a platter with a sprig of parsley. You are vulnerable, because you are asking for something that you created, something that is entwined about your heart, to be weighed and judged. And therefore, you are opening yourself up to rejection.
Why do I keep doing this? Today, I'm not so sure. The last polite "no thanks" from an agent hurt. It hurt because she loved my initial query letter and the concept of my novel. She went so far as to say "I really liked what I've read so far" when she asked to read my entire manuscript. This was the first request for a full manuscript I'd ever received and I was finally starting to feel hopeful.
But, of course, you know the result. After a while, I got the "thanks but no thanks" email. And, the dreaded "not connecting enough with the writing" phrase that I have started to see often whilst spending my time querying agents, to my great chagrin. I realize that at some point I may have to let the dream of publishing this particular novel go. And that hurts worse than a root canal, because I love my characters and my novel. I feel like I have something important to say, and that others might feel that way, too.
Oh, well. Dealing with rejection is character-building, right? And, in case anyone was wondering, I haven't only written one novel. I've written several, and have spent countless more hours revising these as well. So, if I don't find an agent who wants to help poor Rosemary see the light of day, maybe they'll want to help one of my other characters join the world of published fiction.
I'll get over my disappointment, and as usual, I'll forge ahead. I'll continue to write and try to make my work better and better.
But I'll do it tomorrow. Today, only for today, I'm going to indulge in a mini pity party. Don't worry if you hear me screaming "Mulder!!!" or: "Scullyyyyy!!" if you pass by my house. I'm just drowning my sorrows in a bucket of hot fudge while watching a few classic episodes of the X-Files. The cure for all ills.