Coping with Rejection
The other day I tweeted this clip from The Golden Girls of Blanche Devereaux perfectly summing up two of the most frustrating aspects of a writer's life: writer's block and rejection.
It's the rejection phase that I've gotten fairly used to over the past couple of years. We writers face rejection from all over the place. Those of us in the traditional publishing realm often get our first (and second, third, fourth…) taste of it during the querying process as we're hunting for an agent. My inbox filled with "thanks but no thanks" emails when I began shopping around Straightville. A lot of the fault was my own. My manuscript just wasn't quite up to snuff at that point, but being the eager and ill-informed writer, I started querying five minutes after typing THE END. (Tip: Don't ever do that.)
But eventually a better version of that manuscript landed in the lap of Stephen Fraser at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, and he saw promise in it. I became his client. I hoped my days of getting the brushoff were done!
But, yeah, they were not. Oh my goodness, they sooo were not.
Even with Steve's backing, the book failed to find the right home. Feedback was good – some even very good – but for one reason or another, we kept getting passes. During this long, grueling waiting game, I wrote another book, Blades of Grass, then rewrote Straightville. Now both of those manuscripts are floating around in the mailboxes of editors, and the long, grueling wait continues. (Okay, it's not all that grueling, but it is most assuredly long.)
I'm feeling pretty good about the revised version of Straightville, but last week we got our first bit of feedback and – you guessed it – another pass. It was a reluctant pass. In fact, parts of the response were downright glowing. But, yet again, something in there kept this editor from taking the leap. And yet again, I got the classic "It's not you, it's me" rejection. And, yet again, I feel like George Costanza.
There's a certain degree of thick skin needed to operate in the publishing business, and I've gotten pretty good about not letting rejection get me down. I believe in both of these books, and I've got a new idea percolating that Steve likes, so it's on to the next project to help keep me from really focusing on the negative.
But what about the rest of you? How do you handle rejection? Turn to vices like food? Drown your sorrows in a glass (or a bottle) of wine? Cry yourself to sleep? Throw your computer in the lake and vow never to write again? Leave a comment and share your tips for keeping your chin up!
5 thoughts on “Coping with Rejection”
I like to read about past rejections of famous, best-selling authors. Then I get back to the grind and improve my own work. Never, ever give up!
Oh, that's a good one, Jennifer. Have you checked out Literary Rejections? If Margaret Mitchell got nearly 40 passes on "Gone With the Wind," I don't have a thing to worry about!
Hang in there, my friend. It will happen!!!
When I was fresh out of college and looking for a job, I would get down on myself about the rejection I was faced with time and again. (They made job hunting sound so easy in college, like people were going to be lining up to hire me.) My mom had decided to turn it into a learning experience and framed my first rejection letter, which still sits on my desk at home. She told me that it won't be my last one that I get, but it was alright because everyone got them so I shouldn't take it personally. She wanted me to use it as motivation to work hard and prove them wrong. I like to look at that letter every once in awhile to realize how far I've come, both personally and professionally.
That's a cool idea. At this point, I could print off all the emails and make myself a collage!