I don’t know how I ended up in my archives. Something I read had me coming back to see if I’d written something on the same topic and, well. Here we are.
About a year-and-a-half ago (oh-my-God: have I been here this long?), I wrote about my plans to send out my very first query. I was nervous, of course. I expected rejection, but in that way where you know it happens, but if the universe lines up just right, it won’t happen to you.
A few months later, I wrote this post about handling rejection and how to use it to figure out where to go from there.
I remember being excited when I got my first rejection letter. A form rejection letter and I was happy because that meant I was a real writer. A few months after the second post, feeling like I was still flailing about in the process of submission, I took a great query letter workshop from CJ Redwine (@cjredwine on twitter). (I recommend it; registration is open and a new workshop begins April 4.)
In my next post, I’m going to compare my pre- and post- workshop query letters (which you should feel free to comment on!), but that’s not why we’re here.
What I saw, looking back, was a bit of naivety. We all have it. I still have it. Just not about rejection.
I have now accrued 23 rejections. I did manage to get one request for a full. It didn’t happen. I still don’t know what I’m doing wrong.
Maybe, it doesn’t even matter. I knew, although I was hoping for that universe-lining-up thing, that I was very unlikely to sell a first manuscript. Writing a novel is a learning experience. I knew exponentially more when I finished than when I started. Like… I went from first day of Kindergarten to rocket scientist kind of learning. I’ve tried to take submission, and rejection, as an opportunity to learn as well.
And, wow, it’s taking me forever to get to my point. The point is this: what happens after The End–from editing to synopsis to query to agent and beyond–it’s still The End. And while you’re doing all of those other things, the absolute most important thing you can also do is keep writing.
Start another novel. Write short stories or flash fiction. Do something. But keep writing. It’s the only way to grow, it’s the only way to learn, and–I’m going to go out on a limb here–it’s the only way to stay sane. It’s the only way to keep your dream close to you, it’s the only way to still love writing.
Rejection will sting. But writing makes it better.
Dory: “Hey Mr. Grumpy Gills… When life gets you down do you wanna know what you gotta do?”
Marlin: “I don’t wanna know what you gotta do.”
Dory: “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.”
If I haven’t convinced you, read this Guest column by JM Tohline on How Do We Know When It’s Time To Quit Being A Writer? @ writersdigest.com.