Well, back to the subject in question...rejection. On the 25th of June I received my first rejection letter from an agent I queried with my first piece of work.
Does that mean I am one step closer to becoming a proper writer?
On the 3rd of June, with fingers, toes and eyes crossed I sent out 5 enquires to five prospective literary agents. My hands were clammy and my brow was suitably soaked in sweat. In my head questions of doubt plagued me relentlessly as I pressed <SEND>. You would have thought had you seen me at the time, that I was defusing a bomb. And then as soon as I eventually brought myself to actually press the button, rightly or wrong, I took a couple of weeks off. It sounds weird, but I kind of forgot about it. I didn't check email, I didn't play games and I didn't spend time with my nemesis, the flashing cursor.
That's not entirely true, I was constantly thinking about the idea of someone I had never met before or even spoken too maybe reading my stuff and then having to critique it. But whenever that thought hit , a calm, almost Zen like state would settle over me. I don't think for a minute it was in anyway a plateau moment and that I had finally found spiritual enlightenment, (the force is strong with this one, but not that strong), but I always believed when I got to this part of the process I would be obsessively checking email, pulling my hair out, screaming at the wall, demanding to know why they hadn't got back to me after a week or two. After much deliberating I have figured out that what I experienced was more a 'Que sera sera' feeling. The bottom line was there was nothing I could do about it now so why fret?
I have fully prepared myself and expect all 5 enquires to come back as rejected, if they get back to me at all and I don't mean to sound negative, what I'm trying to say is, I'm okay with that too. It's difficult to explain what I mean, it's a feeling I have that if and when all five come back rejected, I know it's not going to dishearten me. There are hundreds of reasons why an agent might say 'no', it might not be their cup of tea, they're looking for something else, etc. Whatever the reasons will be, I'm going to try and take some solace in the fact that if I keep receiving rejection letters, at least I'll be consistent. I just hope they don't think what I have sent them is shit and if it turns out that what I have written is nothing more than dribble, please, oh please won't someone tell me.
Between you and me though, this very small, meek voice keeps annoying me. Buzzing around like a fly I can't swat and as much as I try and ignore it, when I least expect it I hear this whisper 'What if someone likes what you've done?'
I can assure you that I have both my feet firmly planted, but it must happen. Someone sends a WIP to an agent, they read it, they like it, then some magic happens and the next thing you know your holding a copy of your book and it's in shops. I realise that there is a lot more to it than that, but essentially at some point that is the general gist for some, it's highly unlikely, but why couldn't it happen to me?
I think what I am trying to say in a very long winded way is that I have received my first 'No' and in a twisted way I am well chuffed. When my phone pinged on the 3rd to tell me that I had email and I saw the address of one of the agents I had sent it too, the first thing I had to do was use the toilet. I felt a little light headed too, is that normal? Anyway, after staring at my inbox for at least 20 minutes I eventually opened the email. It was concise, no more than half a dozen lines, but it was nowhere near as bad as I had imagined it. I'm not going to try and explain what I had envisioned in my head, but it was pretty savage, this wasn't. After reading it and then reading it again I found that I was smiling. Was it the response I wanted, of course not, but it was a response. Someone in the business, who knows about the world of writing had received my stuff and had spent their time to at least acknowledge me and at the moment I'm okay with that.
I've decided that I'm going to buy a big bull dog clip and every rejection letter I receive I'm going to print them off, hold them together with the huge bull dog clip and hang it on my wall in sight, as inspiration. I want to be a writer, hopefully one day, a good writer, and more than ever I believe that this is something I should be doing. I know that I will continue to write now, no matter what the outcome might be and if it takes years and years to get anywhere near to what I would like, so be it, I have to believe that eventually it will come and if turns out that I don't achieve my goal, at least I tried, that has to mean something doesn't it?
Question - Do other people feel like this when it comes to their own writing and how did they feel when and if they received their first rejection?
How did you feel when you sent your first piece to someone?
Has anyone ever received any particularly harsh rejection letters?
Is it normal for me to feel happy about my first rejection letter?
Anyway, that's it for now. As soon as I receive my next letter I'll let you know.
Take care, but above all, stay cool.
Please take a minute to visit Anne R. Allen's blog, especially this weeks entry, it is filled with information on everything a writer, new or experienced needs to know about all things writing.