Monday, November 29, 2010

...and the winner is...

People who know me and know that I have been working on a novel often inquire, innocently enough, “Is your book out yet?” And I simply reply, “Not yet,” when what I’m thinking is, “Not ever.” This is my way of softening the blow. Of stifling the blind optimist in myself. Of looking reality in the eye and saying, “Okay. If not this book, then what? What should I be working on next?”

So…I sent out five queries last week and within hours, two rejections turned up in my in-box…not because the writing wasn’t good enough but for generic reasons, ie. “I can’t take on any more fiction right now,” and “This is not the story we’re looking for right now.” Nothing to take offense at. I would love to believe that the other three agents are passing my synopsis and sample chapters around the office, saying, “What do you think? This may have some promise for a first time author,” when I know that in truth my query is sitting in a pile or in-box somewhere so it’s only a matter of time until the other rejections come in.

Not to worry. I plan to send out zillions of queries over the next couple of weeks. And it won’t surprise me if they are all rejected. The funny thing is that I’m not offended by the prospect. Why not? Because this has been a learning experience for me. I learned to write by doing it. I learned to compose a synopsis and a query letter by doing it. And now, I’m learning to wait. I’m learning to be optimistic and at the same time, realistic—which is quite a feat. I don’t have to sell this novel in order to pay the bills—which is a good thing! And I realize that these humble efforts are just a beginning. If you plan to follow a dream, you have to begin where you are…with what you have. Take a couple of steps and see where it gets you. Not there yet? Keep going!

Some people are discouraged by this process. Some give up. A lot depends on how you take rejection. As an insult? As an injustice? Or, as a compass? A necessary step in the right direction? Does it defeat you or motivate you? Does it extinguish the flame or fuel your passion?

As a writer, one way of turning rejection into victory is to see who can collect the most rejection slips… “And THE WINNER is...” and to begin working on the next piece while they accumulate.

What has rejection taught you? What have you learned from it?

“Any coward can fight a battle when he’s sure of winning,
but give me the man who has the pluck to fight
when he’s sure of losing.”
--George Eliot--
In my next post, I may leave you with some thoughts about what we share when we write or sing or draw. But if it snows, I may end up praising the glories of winter, instead.

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