Because I’m hard at work on my fourth book *taking that in, feeling it, acknowledging it, savoring it, being grateful for it,* for today I found a post from an old blog I used to have. From when I sent out a few queries on what would later become Tender Graces. Here is an excerpt from what I had to say about the experience. Maybe you can relate?
The thing is my friends—your talents can’t be measured by rejections. Rejection does not mean “No Talent,” it means we’ve not “captured the attention of” yet, which, yes, is still frustrating. I keep hearing about “the saturated market” and it’s true I suppose; I keep hearing about “this climate of the publishing world;” okay . . . whatever.
What I don’t hear is “your writing isn’t good enough,” or “your characters aren’t remarkable or compelling.” Actually, I’ve never received a negative rejection letter and many of them include encouraging comments. Oh, “bad ones” are sent, for I learned by someone’s mail-out mistake that some agents do carry devastating news—I mistakenly received a rejection letter meant for another writer. The agent told the writer she couldn’t write worth a lick and then he said some other things that would have made me melt on the floor sobbing. Though I trembled, I contacted the agent and said I received the wrong letter; he said he’d send me mine. I waited in horrorified worry for the stinging words, for this agent was rather brutal with the other writer—I wondered, “Why am I setting up myself for hurt?”
When my letter came I shook when opening it. Yet I needed to know. His first sentence read, “You certainly are a gifted writer . . .” then he had some other nice things to say (I didn’t have to pick myself off the floor). But . . . the but . . . “but, I just couldn’t get excited about your story . . .” I didn’t know whether to be relieved over the “nice” letter, or stomp my foot in frustration over the “couldn’t get excited” part . . . heard it all before.
It is frustrating—to know you have a “gift” but are somehow not fashioning that gift into the right package to sell . . . because after all, isn’t this a business where we sell a product? Well, that’s where many writers have a bit of a problem – if we want to be published we must remember how this is a Business, however we also must be passionate about our work, and creative, and idealistic, tenacious, thick-skinned, and all these things war with each other in a jumbled up mess.
And sometimes, frankly, good writing and good characters just aren’t enough–who’da thunkit? *sting*
What I want to say is: many of you all know you are good at what you do and capable of writing something that belongs on the bookshelf or the morning/evening doorstep or the coffeetable—and therein lies the sting . . . there are oftimes these factors in the equation and knowing the formula includes Luck plus Timing divided by X plus Z times Ysquared, or something magical to happen as the moon is in the seventh house, or by accident, or by purposeful or formulaic design, or by *fill in the blank*
I just haven’t plugged the right numbers into my equation yet, found the key to unlock a door. Right?
I wrote the above post never knowing that not so long after, I’d have a contract with BelleBooks Publishers. Bless them. We all will have to decide just what we are willing to do for what we want, or, when we are ready to change direction—my change in direction was to query a small press. Perhaps if I’d have queried more agents as I’ve heard other writers do (I’ve heard of writers who query 50, 100, 200, more . . . Wow!) I’d have found one who liked my work enough to rep me. Or not. And if I had, what would be different?–I do not know. Instead, here I am where I am. I sure feel lucky.
Do I sometimes wish for More? That’s a post for another day: – a hint? Don’t we oftimes forget to be grateful and wish for the success someone else has? Reading that post above reminded me of a time when I’d have slap flat envied where I am and how far I’ve now come. Maybe someone right now is envying what I have achieved and would be quite happy with what I right now have? Huhn. Think about that one, Kat.
(By the way, on that note above, from time to time I think about the writer who would receive that awful letter. On purpose I didn’t write down or remember her name, but I hope something good happened for her in some fashion. Maybe the agent did her a favor, or maybe he didn’t; that’s something I’ll never know.)
What is your sting? Where are you right now? And what, if anything, have you decided to change about your process, because it seems a better path for you? And if you did change paths/directions, how has it worked out–no looking back, right?