As I prepare to start pitching to agents in the coming months, I anticipate plenty of rejections along the way. I know they’re coming, but I’m nonplussed. Right now, I’m more concerned about pulling together a 25-word capsule (the infamous elevator pitch), updating my query letter, and making sure there’s nary a typo in my manuscript.
Rejection is where all writers--all people, really--come together, after all. It comes in all shapes and forms, doesn’t it? The longer you live, the more of it you’ve experienced. If I were a more youthful writer, I’d probably be more emotional about it. (That is, I was more emotional about it at one time.) But these days, it’s like a ding on the car door. Annoying, but quickly forgotten.
Unless I can learn something from it. Remember my story about the boss who called me into her office to discuss the typos in my emails? Well, I have to say, I’m kind of OCD about typos now. In a good way, I hope. (You should see my to-do lists. Such penmanship!) We can learn a lot from a sincere rejection when we’re willing to stop, listen, and be humble.
Stories abound of famous authors, past and present, who received plenty of rejections before making it big. Or authors who were ridiculed in their own lifetimes then their books became required reading in later generations.
It helps that I know many accomplished authors, published and unpublished, who’ve amassed their own heaps of rejection letters. It doesn’t mean their books aren’t worthy. In fact, the inverse is often true. I’ve lost count of all the awful books I’ve read and wondered, “how did this one make it??”
Stephen King has a great story in his inspiring book, On Writing, about collecting his rejection letters in a box until it overflowed. If I recall correctly, he had to get another box. And look at him now—the most successful writer in the world.
So yeah, I’m nonplussed. Though you might want to check back with me in a couple months.