Seven years ago today (as of when I am writing this), I received the first rejection from a literary agent for the last book I would try sending out to agents. This wasn’t my first rejection letter, and definitely wasn’t, but it might have been the final nail in the coffin for me thinking I should ever put myself in the path of being rejected by an agent ever again.
A week ago, I sent out the first query letter for my most recent book to attempt to find a literary agent in helping me find a wider audience for my book. And I’m already back in that same place I was seven years ago when trying to decide if any of my efforts in writing were worth the emotional pain of trying to find success.
It’s not like I’ve ever expected to be rolling in fat bills because of my writing. Authors so rarely see black in their checking accounts, even after getting traditionally published, that I certainly didn’t expect to be one of the few to cross the threshold into financial success. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want the chance.
However, rejection is something that strikes all too close to home for me. I can’t imagine anyone is too big of a fan of it, but I take every form of rejection way too seriously. Receiving countless form letters telling me how uninterested people are in even getting a closer look at my books wears on me. It’s soul crushing. And this, my friends, is the number one reason I’ve self-published every one of my books so far. I like to say it’s an issue with patience, but the real problem I have is a lack of perseverance.
Although I know it’s not true, every single rejection letter feels, to me, like it’s yet another person telling me I’m just not good enough to be considered a true author. This is why I have such a hard time telling people about my novels, because I feel like the entire literary world has proclaimed me “Not an Author”. And that sucks.
But, I’m not here to complain or whine about how I can’t handle it. Rejection is just a part of putting your art into the world. And for most people, their art will only be truly respected by a small few. I know that my response to these rejections which are generally based purely on my ability to summarize my books into a few short sentences are not about much more than the perceived marketability of my idea. And I also understand that my writing style might not be nearly as polished as some, or quite in the same vein as more respected novelists. Heck, I might not even be that great of a writer. But the truth of the matter is, none of this actually applies to how I get to where I get when I start trying to convince someone they should partner with me on trying to sell my art.
You see, my writing serves primarily as an outlet from a daily life which didn’t turn out quite as planned. While I’m incredibly blessed by having a job, it’s the job I didn’t want. And so, when I write, I put myself into this alternative reality where my writing is beloved by all and they just can’t wait to see what I have coming down the pipeline next. It’s not until I finish that story that I finally see the daylight and remember that I write for an audience who isn’t exactly rabid for my next release, even if they have enjoyed everything prior.
While I create these fictional tales of adventure, I live in my own fictional realm of success. It’s honestly the only way I can get myself to press forward and complete these dang things. So, when I get out of that process, and the harsh sun causes me to squint as I try to tell people about my latest greatest creation, it’s a bit like a punch in the stomach to realize that not everyone is chomping at the bit to be a part of my success story.
But that’s really what this is all about. It’s about acceptance. And any sort of acceptance I do receive, which isn’t as uncommon as this post would have you believe, is pure bliss. And it’s perhaps those precise moments which make the moments of rejection that much worse. There’s nothing greater than having someone appreciate your art and tell you about it and let you know how much they are anticipating your next big thing. It’s a drug that hits so dang high that coming down from it hurts.
And the opposite of being told your work is great, is having someone reject your work without even reading it. That the very basic idea of what you’ve spent the last few years developing isn’t even worth a second glance. There’s nothing that can bring me down to earth faster than that.
And so, this is where I am right now, having received my first few rejection letters on my newest work of art, and hoping I can find a way to persevere and find someone whom I can partner with who is willing to help me make this book into the thing everyone wants to read.
Which means I’m currently living in this world of absolute hope and optimism and completely dashed dreams. It’s a bit of a wild ride…