2/11/11

A Part of My Heart: Some Thoughts on Rejections

This one's personal. Not that my other blog posts aren't, but this one hits pretty close right now.

My writing is a piece of me. It's a part of my heart. It's an extension of myself that comes from a place deep inside me... a place that defines so much of who I am. In no way am I unique in this aspect. I'd be willing to bet that all writers feel this way about their writing. When I look at my work, whether it's a printed version or just the document on my computer, I don't just see words. I don't just see chapters. I don't just see characters and a story. I see my dreams. I see the love and dedication and hard work that was poured into every sentence, every letter, and every comma. I see something that is in existence only because I imagined it... because I loved it enough to give it life, without any promise of receiving anything in return, other than the satisfaction of completing it. I see my heart.

I've never been shy. I've never been afraid of public speaking. I've never been afraid of competition. So, when I began the querying/submission process, I wasn't afraid. I knew I'd get rejections. I knew it would be an emotional roller coaster. I knew there would be highs and lows.

What I've discovered along the way is that just because you know the roller coaster is coming, doesn't make it any easier. Just because you're mentally prepared for the "lows", doesn't make them any less low.

My philosophy when I began was just to send out a query/submission, then not worry about it... just put it out of my mind and not think about it. I believed in my book. It meant something to me. I believed (and still believe) it is in the best shape it could be in (prior to getting into the hands of an industry professional). I'd crafted (and re-crafted... and re-re-crafted) a query letter. So, I told myself to be very "clinical" in my approach to querying. Just send them out and don't fret.

Riiiiiiiiiiight.

Instead, what's happened over the past several months is that each time I get ready to send out a query letter or sample manuscript pages, I look at them, and see my heart. Each time I hit "send" it's a part of me that races out into cyber-space on its way to the inbox of a literary agent. Each time, it's a piece of my heart that faces rejection.

And each time rejection comes, it hurts.

I'm not complaining. Really, I'm not. Like I said earlier, I knew this would happen. It happens to everyone. It just seems we (and by we, I mean my writer-friends and I) never really talk about how the rejections hurt. In our attempt to be not only professional, but also strong and determined, we forget to actually share the lows. And I think maybe that's a mistake. We all need to vent... to let off steam. If we don't, the bottled emotions can become unhealthy and completely block our creativity. Not to mention just making us downright unpleasant.

Please understand, I'm not mad at anyone who's rejected my work. And I don't even begrudge them the form rejections that begin "Dear Author". I can't imagine the volume of query letters they get. I have trouble managing and keeping up with the email I receive from my list-serves!

It's all a part of the process... the writing journey. I'm glad to be a part of it. And despite the rejections, I'm not deterred. I'll "keep on keeping on". Because the writing is important to me.

But I just wanted to say, publicly, that for all of us writer-folk, our writing is a part of us. It's our heart on paper. And rejections hurt. Brushing that hurt under the rug won't help. Better to just acknowledge it and move on.

So that's what I'm doing.

Rejections hurt. And they always will.

But I write. And I always will.

4 comments:

  1. Amy:
    I understand very well how you feel. I know for a fact that I have shot myself in the foot with some of my submissions. Made stupid mistakes. So, now I break out into a cold sweat every time I send out a submission. Even if I think it's perfect, I still sweat.
    Remember that horrible rejection I got for CH. The one that left me reeling for weeks. I probably learned more from that one rejection than any other, but it also shook my confidence. So much so I've never been confident about any submission I've sent since.
    I don't know if that timidity has cost me representation, or a publishing contract. I'll never know because even with their rejections, you seldom get any feedback from the person who's rejecting you.
    Even after two books being published, I too experience rejection. And with each one, I experience the pain you're talking about.
    It's like someone saying your perfect child is imperfect and not good enough for them. I understand.
    But know this-- No matter how many rejections you get, no matter how much pain each one causes you, there is a market for your writing somewhere and if you persevere you will realize your dream.
    I'm sending cyber hugs your way.
    Teresa R.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think I can say it any better than Teresa. Rejection stinks. And it stinks even more when they don't even take the time to acknowledge your name.
    The stupid mistakes you make are frustrating in the extreme. I think I may have told you before, but I sumbitted something to a company that did not take multiple submissions. That was the best rejection I ever received. The editor was super sweet, and I found out she only lives about 45 minutes away from me. She liked my query letter, and encouraged me to submit something similar to them. And she addressed it to me by name. The fact that she did that ensures that I will submit to her again.
    I've read that so many editors have to be in a certain mood, in a certain phase of the moon, etc. for something to click with them. So, all you can do is hope the next time they are in a better frame of mind.
    I think you'll find a home for your work soon, with somebody that will cherish that little piece of you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Rejection totally hurts! I don't mind saying it. For at least a week or two after a rejection, I mope and the words on paper don't seem to be as wonderful as they once were. I wish I knew how not to take a writing rejection personally, but I haven't figured that one out yet. Eventually though, I pull my big pants on again and send out something else, all the while trying to brace myself for the hurt. It took me months to send out a query for a personal essay I'd written about my breast cancer experience because of the form rejection I got last time. That really seemed personal, but I've sent it out again, and my skin continues to grow thicker, I hope.

    Your work will be appreciated by the right person, until that time, you do have fellow writing professionals who know where you're coming from.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't think there's a way to not take the rejections personally. I know they aren't meant that way, but the writing IS personal to all of us. In my mind I KNOW that the rejection is not a personal slam on me and my writing. I totally "get" that. But... all good writing is personal to the author. The creative process is something we love and nurture... and so there's no way for the rejections not to sting.

    I guess my whole point in this blog post (in addition to just getting all of that out my system) was to say that we don't have to pretend to be blase or nonchalant about the rejections. I think it's okay to acknowledge the hurt that comes with each one. If it didn't hurt and we didn't take them personally, then our writing is probably emotionally flat... because there's nothing of ourselves in it!

    Thanks for visiting the blog, ladies. I know I'm in good company. Thanks for your friendship!

    ReplyDelete