Blogs by Barbara Forte Abate
6/1/2011 3:11:02 AM
If You Write It, They will Reject It
It's an especially ugly part of the deal, but you knew to expect it. Right? You understand that's just the process and you're prepared to pay your dues like every other writer. What's more, you're ready. You've just dotted the i and crossed the t on that final sentence and your masterpiece is ready for a road trip -- query, send, wait...repeat.
A few rejection letters will find their way into your mailbox -- maybe several, but that's a necessary speed bump that will immediately fade the very instant the magic happens and your manuscript is "discovered." Plucked from the slush pile by a wise and wonderful editor/agent/publisher who will discover/read/love your book.
Charming, But Not Especially True
Yes, it does sometimes happen that way...I guess. I can only tell you that my personal experience was akin to those writers you read about and shake your head in pity. Who not only acquire enough form rejection letters to paper an especially large kitchen and adjacent bathroom, but who recognize from the particular gait of the mailman's tread thumping across the porch that he is seconds away from dropping your SASE manuscript package at your front door (his ponderous gait indicating the extra weight of your 375 page package in his mailbag.)
Not be be deterred, you keep sending it out, racking-up frequent mailer miles (which unfortunately are only accessed and redeemable in your head) and staying hopeful while praying another novena.
No, And No Again
Okay, so how long can you possibly be expected to play this one-sided game? Weeks? Months? Years? Yes, yes, very possibly, yes. And what keeps you hopeful, trusting, and believing? Well, honestly, you yourself do. Uh huh, that's right, you. While rejection is indeed part of the process, what you do with it is all about you.
Finding Light in Unexpected Places
We all need for find our most effective methods for hunkering down and keeping ourselves buckled in the pilot seat when things are looking dismal and gloomy to the point that we find it necessary to expand the folder in our file cabinet marked Rejections. Just as we need to be careful not to overlook valuable gifts of the unexpected.
Look For The Memo
I've personally collected enough rejection letters over the past twenty years to rival the page count of my novel. Am I insane? Foolish? Delusional? Quite possibly, but then, I also have The Memo. The memo has been carefully positioned on my desk for over ten years. I worry that the ink, which has already faded to something of a near ghostly image, will eventually melt away into thin air, a possibility that leaves me horrified, as this memo has boosted my engines for quite some time.
You see, once upon a time, I had packed up my 400 page manuscript, sealed it with a hope and a prayer just as I'd done a bajillion times previous and sent it off to a promising literary agent whose name I'd found in a new market listing. She contacted me shortly after to let me know that my pages had piqued her interest and that she would be in touch once she finished reading. A year later, the long absent manuscript landed on my doorstep, and the attached form letter had a single word scribbled at the bottom of the page "Almost." Uh huh, that was it. After a year of waiting, hoping, crossing my fingers tight enough to risk losing circulation in digits required for future typing --"Almost."
Horrified, disgusted, pitiful, depressed, I nevertheless pulled myself together and did what I've always done, I prepared to send it back out immediately, before it's screaming presence could rattle my shaky confidence any further. It was while in the midst of stuffing all 400 pages into a newly addressed mailer, when I noticed a corner of paper sticking out from between two pages in the paper pile. And it wasn't a carelessly bent page as I'd initially assumed, but rather, it was The Memo.
Apparently it was the customary practice of said agent to have a first reader peruse incoming submissions for anything she deemed of possible interest to the agent. The memo I'd found inadvertently stuck to the back of my pages were the reader's detailed notes to the agent. Except that it wasn't merely a note I'd found, but rather, a most gorgeous and beautiful love letter for my novel. Simply put, she didn't just enjoy reading my story, she loved it. In fact, loved it enough to detail precisely what it was that captivated her into setting it aside for the literary agent's approval.
And The Point of This Recollection? And There Really Is One
I don't know why, after such a glowing report from her reader, that this agent wasn't interested, but that's not the lesson here. She wasn't the "one" and that's fine, because her reader was. Her reader was the one I write for. The one who picks up my book and keeps on turning the pages, because something within has captured her interest and held her to the end. That single memo, which was never intended for my eyes and had only come to me by oversight would become my go-to talisman -- heartfelt words to counter every subsequent rejection. It was a gift of Divine Intervention, I am certain. A close to perfect affirmation as to why I will never take someone else's "no" for my final answer.
Your Own Memo
And what about you? Did you get your memo? If the answer's yes, then congratulations! Hold onto it and refer to it when needed. You were going to keep writing regardless, but the memo is an awesome gift to treasure.
No memo? Not to worry. It's coming. As long as you love and nurture what you're doing. Your memo will arrive. Whether it be a scrap of paper inadvertently stuck to your returning pages like mine, or a "real" rejection letter penning by a person and not a copy machine - offering valuable encouragement, a friend, spouse, or child volunteering to cook supper, fold the laundry, or walk the dog because you're "in the middle of writing." Anything that comes along to remind you that when it comes to your heart's desire, rejection, in any of it's various forms, just isn't something you intend to drop in your shopping cart.
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More Blogs by Barbara Forte Abate
A VISIT TO:THE NEW YORK SCREENWRITING LIFE - Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Writer in Training - Tuesday, August 02, 2011
My Life For Sale - Thursday, July 07, 2011
Comrades of The Pen - Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Reject Rejection - Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Watching Yourself a Little Too Closely - Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The Great Agent Quest - Guest Post - Monday, April 25, 2011
Pile Up on Information Highway - Tuesday, April 19, 2011
A Novel Road Trip - Thursday, April 07, 2011
Queen for a Day - Tuesday, April 05, 2011
The Question of Social Media - Saturday, February 19, 2011
The Joy of Reading - Saturday, February 12, 2011
If You Love a Writer - Thursday, February 10, 2011
Spring Fever - Wednesday, February 09, 2011
In the Not So Distant Future - Saturday, January 08, 2011
Hopeful Perseverence - Thursday, October 28, 2010