Rejection is probably one of the hardest things for people to deal with. Rejection of any kind. Being turned down for a date, a job, your novel being rejected 23 times, anything... It just plain sucks. Even if you know the rejection had nothing to do with you, it still hurts. Maybe you knew you weren't qualified for the job, maybe the person you asked on a date turned out to be married, or maybe you're competing with thousands of other people for the attention of one agent. It still stings.
As I mentioned in my "I wrote a novel, now what?" post, I'm querying agents about my first novel. So far, I'm at 23 rejections. I still have a fairly long list of potential agents to query, but it is definitely getting a little harder as time passes. In the beginning, I'd see the email from the agent, close my eyes, and take several deep breaths before reading it. After I'd "prepared" myself for the potential rejection (there is no preparing yourself), I read the email. My heart dropped a little every time I read "Thank you, but…" or "I must pass" or "Your pages just didn't pull me in" or something. Now I see the emails and I think, "Yep. Here's another rejection." I open it and am not surprised that it is.
After being rejected, I go through this process where I try to pretend that I didn't just get rejected. I try to just go about my day like normal, but my legs weigh a bit more, and everything I do is with just a little less excitement.
Like I said, there is no way to prepare for this. I was fully aware that I would receive crap loads of rejections long before I was ready to send out my novel. It's just the way the industry works. There are way more writers than there are agents and publishers. It's extremely competitive. But knowing you'll be rejected, and actually getting those rejections, are two totally different things.
What makes it even harder is that it's extremely difficult to know why you are being rejected. Very few agents provide a reason or feedback. I understand why they don't. If they did, they'd never have time to get anything else done. And if they engaged with every person they were rejecting, they'd probably get a lot of crazy people arguing with them. So I understand why their responses are usually vague and generic, if they even respond at all. Many agents just state on their website that if you haven't heard from them with a certain time period, they've passed.
So, I'm left to guess why I was rejected. It could be that my query letter sucked, rather than my story itself. Maybe my query was good and my story was awful. Maybe the vampire boat has already sailed. I'm fully aware that this is a strong possibility, although I feel a bit better because I know the vampire ship will dock again eventually. It always does.
When I first set out on this journey, I didn't talk to many people about it. I didn't want people to know I was being rejected, and I didn't like to relive the sting every time I made the announcement that another agent had rejected me. I've since realized that I will become extremely depressed about this if I keep it inside, so now I'm doing the opposite. I tell everyone who will listen about my rejection. Everyone is being really awesome about it. Thank you everyone.
My friends are cheering for me. One friend mentioned someone (I can't remember who), who had pinned all their rejection letters on a board. Since then, I've been racking my brain to think of some kind of art project to do with my rejection letters. I'm not a visual artist. I know many writers who possess other artistic talents as well, but not me. I can hardly draw a straight line. Although there was one time when my nephew was around 2 or 3 that I drew a car for him, and he said, "Car!" I was very excited that he knew what it was. I'm pretty sure it didn't look much like a car. But still, I'd been validated. Maybe I'm not so bad after all.
So, last night I couldn't fall asleep. It's pretty much a nightly thing right now. It sucks. But I often have ideas as I'm half awake and half asleep. Some have turned about to be good, others not so much. Most of these ideas are experimental and related to my current novel. Thank you to my writers group for putting up with reading the ideas I've come up with at two in the morning. Like that scene I wrote through the perspective of an owl. That was a two in the morning idea. You guys are awesome.
Last night I finally had an idea of what to do with my rejection letters. I'm thinking something along the lines of bright colored paper and those stickers teachers use to tell you that you're awesome. I'll be working on this project later today, and putting it on instagram and anywhere else I can think of. Yeah, that means I have to make an instagram account. I don't even know if I'm spelling instagram right. I just started tweeting last week. Still trying to figure that out.
Sigh. So much for staying away from social media. Oh well, I suppose it's time to get with the times.
Anyway, stay tuned for more rejection woes.
Update: I've completed what I'm calling my, "Wall of Encouragement." Check it out on Instagram: