Monday, January 26, 2009

You... are not a Published Author.

At one time in your life, you will be rejected. By a lover, a friend, an agent, an editor. How you deal with it? That's up to you.

Back in 10th grade, I broke up with my first boyfriend. Well, he broke up with me. It was my first time being rejected in love. I thought I would DIE, and I went through all the contortions of a teenaged girl convinced she'll never-ever-ever love again. I wrote sad missives in my diary, turned off the radio if Freddy Jackson's "You are my Lady" or Kool and the Gang's "Cherish" came on. Didn't eat. You know - the usual. Eventually, I got over him. And I did love again. And now I can listen to "Cherish" - a lovely (though corny) song.

I've been rejected by agents (not to my liking, or I don't think I can sell this, or your numbers were good with A Quiet Storm, but not great, or I have a client with a book like yours). I've been rejected by editors (didn't wow me, or we're only buying erotic urban vampire memoirs, or what's with the lemmings in chapter 6 - they distracted me, and so, no).

Oh yeah, that hurts. Coz it wowed me. And my book's not the same as you lying client who's never lived in the ghettos of Los Angeles. And lemmings are funny. And then, I take a breath. Okay, several breaths. And then I rant. And then, a few more breaths.

But you know what? The Industry's rejection is not personal. Bottom line, conglomeratization, the need for more erotic urban vampire memoirs to pull publishing from the brinks of disaster.

Then again, their rejection is personal. Because art is personal. Writing, painting, designing, all of it reflects who you are, your experiences, your take on this crazy-stupid world. And so, if someone rejects your story, then they are rejecting you. And it takes all of your might to not run off the set a la "Maury", hands to your face, weeping hysterically.

But that's the writing life. Carrie by Stephen King was rejected 30 times. The first Harry Potter? Nine times. Jonathan Livingston Seagull? 18 times. 18!

I've kept all of my rejection letters. I keep them, and read them sometimes and realize that some were correct in their assessments. But just as I didn't let that 10th grade romance end all future relationships, I won't let a letter from an editor end my writing. I'll find that love again.

How do you deal with rejection? What's the funniest thing someone's said to you that broke your heart?

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