Let’s talk for a moment about rejection.
What does it mean, exactly, to have somebody tell you that your work isn’t good enough? That it’s not exactly what they were looking for, that they don’t feel passionately enough about it to offer you representation. That they couldn’t find an agent who felt strongly enough to support it.
Well I guess it feels a little like someone has burst the balloon in your heart, the one that was swelling ever larger with pride and hopefulness, as you finally felt like you were ready to share your work with the world.
I guess it feels a little like the years you spent crafting your story, the midnight fits of inspiration and the daily droughts of drive, the world you created in your head and heart, was all for nothing.
I guess it feels a little like you’ve failed.
Have you though?
Think about it again. There’s a universe inside your mind, full of your thoughts and feelings and ideas, and you’ve had the imagination to transpose that onto paper. You’ve had the patience and the discipline to do what so many others can’t: to write. To sit down and deliberate plot and character and incongruous timelines. You’ve then had the patience, again, to face the exhausting and wearying task of editing. Five times you sat down and re-wrote. Read your entire book aloud to yourself so you could sound what it heard like in real life. You gave it out to family and friends, bracing yourself for the influx of feedback and criticism and them telling you that you’ve misused the semi-colon, once again, and you listened to what they had to say. You edited and redrafted and re-wrote.
Your story changed. It shrunk and it grew, and slowly, ever so slowly, it involved into a feasible piece of literature. The spill from your mind was tidied up and shaped and honed until it glistened.
And it does glisten, trust me. It glistens because it has your sweat and blood and tears in its very being, and because you have done something truly wonderful and amazing. So what if one person can’t see that? Twenty people? Fifty? Pah. They don’t know you. They don’t know what you’re capable of. You’d do well to remember that when you read those dreaded words and see your hopes dashed so callously in such a short email.
So the next time a stranger tells you that ‘it doesn’t fit their brief’ or that ‘it has some interesting ideas but we cannot fully support it’, do not fret.
You haven’t failed, not by any means. You’ve already succeeded. Your story may be written, but I have the feeling that it’s really only just the beginning.
Hold tight, better things are coming.