Facing Rejection

I hear myself telling DD1 all the time that it doesn’t matter if she succeeds or fails, I’m proud of her for trying her hardest. For really putting in the effort. She sometimes believes me, and other times I get the annoyed preschooler look.

fear1
I totally don’t deserve it.

But, I have to walk the walk now that I’ve written, edited, rewrote, edited, rewrote again, and finally polished Crowned Prince.

I decided I wanted to try getting an agent and go the traditional publishing route if possible. There are pros and cons to both indie publishing and traditional, but I at least wanted to try traditional. Partially for their experience, but mostly for their amazing editors.

I know, I know, but one is not in the budget for us right now. While I take my writing seriously, I also take paying for two kids in daycare seriously. Don’t know if it’s like this everywhere, but where I live, my daycare bill is about twice the cost of an average mortgage payment. So, yeah, not much else is in the budget right now.

If I’m going to find an agent, I need to either meet one at a conference or query one. As a mom with two small children who works full time already, finding time or money for a conference also isn’t in the budget. So that means querying.

fear2
Not this kind of querying.

And being rejected A LOT.

I have a feeling your chances of getting in to Harvard are probably better. After all, they accept 5.2% of their applicants. But, if I want to get an agent, I have to query them.

This is like a lot of things in life.

  • Maybe you don’t like your job, but that means putting yourself out there to find a new one.
  • Maybe you’re single and want to meet someone.
  • Maybe you want to be an actor, but that means showing up for the auditions.

Everything is life is scarce. And the more you want it, the more of yourself you have to put out there to get it.

That means facing the very real risk of rejection. Of failure. Or not being good enough. Talented enough. Just not enough.

The platitude of at least you tried your hardest feels less genuine then, though, really, that’s when it matters most. Trying. Not giving up.

fear3

Persistence in the face of rejection is especially hard when you put so much of yourself into something. Like a job. Or a relationship. Or writing a book. Because this feels like a personal rejection. And we’re a heard animal. It’s ingrained in us to be part of the pack as those that weren’t usually didn’t have a happy ending.

But, I must face failure. I have to try, as I tell my daughter she must.

So I started the process. Looking up agents, trying to see who they represent and what they sell to see if I’ll be a fit. I even queried a few.

And got my first rejection.

It hurt less than I thought it would. But it still hurt.

 

How about you? Ever put yourself out there for something? Maybe a new job? A relationship? A book query? How did it go? Did it go better than you thought? If it didn’t, was the rejection or failure as bad as you thought it’d be?

 

Another Rejection

I still have yet to have an agent ask for a copy of my manuscript. I am not certain if my query is terrible, my subject matter unappealing, or my work genuinely not publishable.

Another rejection. Another standard form letter.

sea-of-fog-373782_1280

I have spent over 6 months now sending out queries and being “lucky” to get a form letter back.

At least it’s e-mail so I’m not paying postage.

Perhaps I should sign up for one of the expensive classes through Writer’s Digest. At least they’re somewhat reputable.

But that gets back to the issue of writing as a hobby. Do I want to be published? Yes. Do I want to be a best-selling author? You betcha. Would I love to be the next Stephen King? Of course.

I know the likelihood of any of these things is right down there near zero.

Sure, I finished a book, but lots of people manage that.

I put together a blog.

Need to get a Twitter account, I guess.

But the actual business of getting published? I am starting to see it as an impossible dream.

I have a good-paying day job. Two wonderful kids and an awesome spouse. All the time I spend writing is time I’m not spending with them. It’s time I’m not spending reading, or playing video games, or going for walks. Or doing any number of other things I enjoy.

It takes a long time to write a book. A longer time to edit it, rewrite it, and edit it again.

After 20 months of working on my two novels with nothing to show for it other than a couple handfuls of e-mail rejection letters, I’m growing weary.

The writing itself has been hard lately, too. So many things in real life keep getting in the way that there isn’t enough room in my head for my characters to talk anymore.

I have heard some people tout self-publishing. But that gets back to trying to sell your work, and I am awful at that. I already know that about myself.

So where does that leave me?

Back where I was a few months ago, I suppose. Considering quitting this nonsense and refocusing my time.

DH encouraged me to keep writing if I love it.

While I do enjoy the character creation and storytelling of writing, the constant edits, revisions and rewrites? That’s work. And I already have a day job. One that actually pays me.

I’ve considered sending it out to a professional editor to review, but that’s extremely expensive (think cost of a used car expensive) and not in the budget right now.

I asked myself what does it cost to be done with trying to get published, load my baby onto Amazon, mashable, or whatever other platforms are out there and call it a day?

I’m not sure. Maybe that’s why so many people do it.

And maybe I’m just feeling contrarian and don’t want to be like other people.

For now, I’ll give the query letter another try and at least consider the class.

My First Submission

I did it.

I stopped reworking my query.

I quit poking at my synopsis.

I stopped staring at the Writer’s Market book.

I sent out my first query . . . And it got rejected in less than 5 minutes. I’m assuming this was some sort of software that reviewed the document for keywords and rejected it accordingly.  Interestingly, it doesn’t bother me all that much. I guess because I am all but certain no human ever saw the query.

So, I sent it out somewhere else. Took most of my writing time to go through the Writer’s Guide and put together my submission package. Butterflies kept trying to escape my stomach the whole time. Even remembering JK Rowling’s scathing rejection letter, I just . . . Ugh.

 

Demon
I call him Doubt.

I hate this part of writing. Putting myself out there and waiting for someone to tear apart all the hard work I put into it, and really, tear at a little bit of me. Most writers put so much of themselves in their work that it’s hard to compartmentalize the rejections. Practice will make me better at it, I’m sure, but what an unpleasant thing to practice.

I slept poorly all night, although that may have had as much to do with the little one being up all night with a cold as my nerves.

Now the waiting game begins. Three to six weeks and I should get my first rejection from a person rather than a machine.

 

Time to Try

So, I wrote that query.

Three times.

And scrapped all of them.  I’ve started again, and I am hoping that practice makes perfect. Or at least pretty good.

I’ve never been good at sales, and I couldn’t give away food to a starving man.  So trying to write a sales pitch that feels authentic is hard.

I ordered the deluxe version of the 2016 Writer’s Guide because in 2016, I want to be able to filter, sort and index publishers and agents. I want to be able to save them down to Excel to track who I am querying and Outlook so it can notify me when the 6-8 weeks has passed for a response. And, of course, the financial outlay helps motivate me to at least try.

I tell myself that even if I get 50 rejections, I am really no worse off than I am now. Not really.

Now, back to writing that query!

Finished Manuscript

I finished a manuscript. Not my first, but my first in 15 years.

I have “wanted to be a writer” since I was ten. My family was poor, and they neither understood nor supported this strange passion. I plunked away for hours in ratty notebooks or on ancient word processors. When I got to college, I managed to get a computer and pounded out two full novels between classes. But I never found real support for my passion even in college, and financial necessity (read looming student loans) sent me down a very different path. I became a CPA. Yes, you read that correctly. From aspiring writer to CPA.

And I was good at it. Not great, but damn good.

I worked in public accounting for three years, putting in grueling hours at distant clients. I went back to my lonely hotel room and pounded out a few words every night. But lack of success in publishing wears on you, especially when you are experiencing success in your “other” career, and eventually, I sidelined writing for other pursuits. Sure, I would pick it up and dabble with it here and there, but never seriously.

When I was home on maternity leave last year, I watched a lot of TED talks. One of them was on passion. What was your passion? What would you do even if you weren’t paid to do it? And why aren’t you out there pursuing it?

For me, that passion was writing. Always had been. So, I picked up pen, paper, and iPad and got to work.

A year later, I have finished a manuscript, revised it seven or eight times, had 2 beta readers read it and give me feedback, and then revised it another two to three times. I feel like it’s as good as I can make it right now.

What I haven’t achieved is thick skin. Not yet. Perhaps I shall save publishing for later.