A Writer Reacts to Her First Rejection

A Writer Reacts to Her First Rejection

At various times over the past five years, I have alternated between eagerly anticipating my first agent queries and curling up in the corner with handfuls of chocolate at the mere thought of approaching The Gatekeepers of the Publishing Realm. My calculator says that’s 1,825 days …. 43,800 hours … over two-and-a-half million minutes. Yeah, it’s a long time, no matter how you slice or dice it. A long time to be see-sawing between anxious and confident, uncertain and proud, scared and cocky, despairing and elated. We all suffer from this brand of writer’s schizophrenia, but no one ever tells you this when you’re starting out.

So, on September 30, 2018, no one was more surprised than me by the reckless abandon with which I finally hit that SEND button, hurtling my precious baby off into cyberspace to an uncertain future with a stranger, a stranger who may not ever tell me how they felt about it … or me … or my prospects as a writer. It was a feeling like no other. I felt …

RELIEVED.

It’s true. Pardon my French–in fact, sensitive eyes need to avert NOW– but I had no fucks left to give. For five years I had read and heard all the horror stories about agents who couldn’t even find three seconds in their day to shoot off a pre-written, generic “No thanks” email. I’d done all the sweating a human can do over verb choices, dialogue tags, beats, colloquialisms, exposition, and backstories–when? how much? where?–because (as was beaten into my head) one misstep could result in your manuscript being flung from an agent’s hands into the round file. And the writers who’d wallpapered their writing space with rejection letters, gone on drinking binges or long stretches of not writing, even giving up altogether? Those were legion.

I had long since ceased to care about all that. I had written a novel–a damn good one–and was–am!–determined to get it out into the world. My letter is professional and businesslike. My manuscript has been critiqued, revised, edited, and polished. What have I to fear? My feeling is: I’ve done my best. I hope you like it.

A not insignificant amount of time was also spent researching the agents on my long list and crossing off those whom I didn’t feel were a good fit for me, including those with a painfully neglected (since the turn of the millennium) website and one with NO website. (Why would I want to be in a long-term business relationship with someone who hadn’t a clue about technology and web presence?) Those who seemed constitutionally unable to understand a Jersey girl sense of humor or an appreciation for the absurdities of life–a worldview I share, by the way, with my protagonist–well, they had to go, too. There were other criteria, of course, and I worked my way through the list, painstakingly researching every agent on it. When my whittling was complete, I began by sending out my first five queries.

Rejection LettersThe first and only response thus far came at right around the 48-hour mark. The agent couldn’t have been nicer or her reply any more thoughtful. While my story wasn’t for her, she encouraged me to take a second look at some of the other agents at her agency for the right fit. She closed with this:

“Publishing is a long game, keep writing and persevering. I wish you nothing but the greatest success.”

What a lovely letter with which to begin wallpapering my writing space. May they all be thus (although I know they won’t).

P.S. If you’re a writer struggling with rejection, here’s another blog post you’ll want to read. Just be sure to put down your beverage first. Laptops are notoriously averse to the forceful application of spraying liquid.

 

How Did You Become Interested in Writing?

Q: So, how did you become interested in writing?

A: A nun. With a yard stick. And a mean streak.


Just kidding. No one wants to believe me, but I had the most wonderful nuns when I attended Catholic school. This is my first grade class. One nun, one room, 63 kids. No teacher’s assistant, no room mother. Perfect order at (almost) all times. And, yes, Sister Georgine did instill in me a love of reading and writing.

I am dead center in the second row from bottom. Because … teacher’s pet. 

Life Is Funny

Life is funny. I’m a plug-and-play kind of gal living in a satellite TV vs. Netflix world. In our house, changing between the two is a complex process requiring multiple remotes and knowing which acronym is which (HDMI1? HDMI3?) before you can even begin to look for what you’d like to watch. Needless to say, I am rarely the one discovering interesting or obscure entertainment options.

Life is funnyBut today we (and by “we,” I mean the hubs) found “B.B. King: The Life of Riley” on Netflix. And what a great find it was! One of the first things my husband and I realized we had in common when we met is our mutual love of American blues music. We are both long-time B.B. King fans.

But I digress. I wanted to talk about how life is funny sometimes. In the course of this two-hour gem of a documentary, I found out a couple of really interesting things I have in common with The King of the Blues himself: (more…)

Selective Belief in Astrology

Selective Belief in Astrology

Belief in AstrologyConfession: I don’t know an earth sign from a peace sign, so taking astrological advice does not come naturally to me. But I will admit to an idle curiosity about the relationship between my zodiac sign (Capricorn) and my “destiny.” See? I can’t even do this without quotation marks. But I digress.

You could say I have a selective belief in astrology. As in, when my horoscope says things I like, I’m all in. Otherwise, I turn the newspaper page to the crossword puzzle, which is where I was headed before being distracted by the foolishness of a one-size-fits-all-Capricorns “message” from the universe.

This week’s issue of our local paper, however, provided the type of glad tidings I prefer to clip and post above my desk:

“Writing, research, and communications projects go well this month, with the sun in Pisces [the sun is where? oh, whatever]. Words come with greater ease. Study and practice.”

Oh, and “today” (how do they know when I’m reading it, since my newspaper is a weekly?) is an 8, where 10 is the easiest day and 0 is the most challenging. Alrighty then. I’ll go with that, until further notice or next week’s issue, whichever comes first.

 

Taking Stock in the New Year

Taking Stock in the New Year

I had every intention of finishing my manuscript in 2015. After all, when I made the decision to dedicate myself to writing full-time, ten months still remained in the new year.

And yet here I sit, at the beginning of 2016, with a draft that is five, maybe six, chapters shy of being a completed story. The bones — and then some — are all there. The beginning has been polished to a fare-thee-well. The climactic scene, in one final twist of (what I hope is) shock and irony, is followed by a logical and satisfying denouement. Between the two lie twists and turns, subplots, clues, and red herrings. What’s missing are the last bits of connective tissue that will tie all that bone and flesh together into the recognizable shape that is a COMPLETED MANUSCRIPT.

Somewhere along the way I realized it. I should have (more…)