Rejection and the Writer

Since my blog is heavy on the daily ins and outs of the writer’s life; you know, the accolades and the challenges I face as a writer. It only seems apropos I talk about one of the stranger elements of this process. The rejection. I have willingly chosen to follow a career path that leads, more often times than not, to rejection. I wanted to talk about that today, but not just the normal run of the mill rejection, but rejection from a literary agent.

The dream of finding a real live literary agent to gush about has been swirling for a few years now. I dream of the day I’m able to gush wildly across my personal inter web spaces, “I have an agent! I have a downright, honest to God, Literary Agent!”

Today is not that day, my friends.

Though, I was thinking about the flip side of that. I mean, this whole process and all the hard work I put into it warrants a reaction, right? Why the hell can’t I shout from the rooftops, “I was rejected by a top tier literary agent today!”

I got through the book writing process, the beta reading process, the query letter process, and got through the front door and an agent asked to see my full Manuscript! There were emails back and forth! There was a common courtesy! Then in the end, she rejected me, ever so politely. And dammit, I’m closer to the top of this mountain!

“I was Rejected! Hurray!”

Why not celebrate the ruts along with the clouds?

My strangely positive attitude aside, rejection still sucks. This one stung. I’m not going to lie, it hurt. Rejection attacks a weary part of my soul. And trust me, as a tired writer, who is continually validated at conferences and by the awards my work wins, there comes a lull in the process where the rejection isn’t some businesslike occurrence, but a rejection of my person as a whole.

Vast numbers of great books and writers and blogs offer ways to deal with literary rejection. The main idea is that after a while you will grow a calloused skin to the rejections. And after my mountain of rejection slips, I’ve calloused my heart a bit in the process.

It’s one thing to get rejections and acceptances from literary magazines. That’s part of the job.

Rejection letters from possible literary agents are manageable. Until the agent becomes more than a name on a page. When the agent asks for a full manuscript, which has happened for me several times now. This, this is when I find myself in new territory.

A territory named: Closer.

Closer to achieving my dreams. Closer to landing an agent. Closer to the world I want to live when an email reads, “I love the sound of this, and the first few pages are wonderful. Could you send the whole manuscript?”

I answer yes.

The Agent thanks me and give me a time frame they are working in and then I hurry up and wait.

And wait.

And it’s Thanksgiving.

And it’s Christmas.

And it’s New Years.

And it’s Valentine’s Day. And in my inbox is a message from THE AGENT. Shakily I click the message open and hurry through it. And my heart drops. My insides are a soda can, crushed under the weight of a reply that basically says: “You write good kid, but this isn’t for me after all.”

And as a writer, who might instill hope to a fellow writer, I wish I could tell you this gets easier. Some days it is, some weeks I can get six or seven rejections and that’s fine. It’s manageable. It doesn’t knock me off the almighty proverbial horse.

But that was when I lived on a different plain. Still figuring out the ins and outs of this system and how I wrote and what my voice felt like and looked like and read like.

Now, I’m in new territory. This space where I’m closer than ever to achieving goals that set me on this strange wagon road of a career, it’s new and exciting and unnerving. Though, the darkness makes me fearful, the quiet stretches of land I must travel alone make my legs heavy.

One step closer to something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, and two steps back when the answer comes with a resounding slam of a door.

It hasn’t ‘licked’ me, this dragon of rejection. I’m not flat on my back, I’m back on my feet, sword thrust skyward. But I’m a bit dizzy, disoriented, and my head hurts.

I’ve gotten too pretty and flowery with my explanation. So I’ll keep it simple: Today, rejection sucks.

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