I described in a previous entry about how a writer’s success or failure depends on the subjective opinions of others. When writers decide to go the route of traditional publishers, they are placing all their hopes — to start — with a single person, whether it be an agent or editor. When that particular agent/editor says, “Thanks but no thanks,” the writer can’t help but feel heartbroken.
Turns out I didn’t have to wait eight weeks after all. The rejection letter is as follows:
Thank you for your submission.
Unfortunately, I did not connect with the submitted material enough to consider your project for representation.
I am grateful that you have afforded me this opportunity to find out about you and your project, and wish you the best of success with your current and future creative work. This business is highly subjective; many people whose work I haven’t connected with have gone onto critical and commercial success. So, keep after it.
I wish I had the time to respond to everyone with constructive criticism, but it would be overwhelming, hence this form response. However, there are three pieces of writing advice that I preach to everyone (from which I receive no monetary gain or benefit):
It’s hard not to focus on this part and ignore the rest: “I did not connect with the submitted material.”
My story sucks. It’s boring. It’s poorly written. I wasted my time and his. I should give up, because if I don’t, I’ll keep running into disappointment, and embarrass myself.
My brain is telling my heart not to believe it, and to shove those tears back into those ducts. Instead of focusing on the first part, my brain is trying to twist my eyeballs toward the second part about how everything is subjective, and one agent’s opinion is just that. Not everyone is going to like everything. I’ve read plenty of very successful books I didn’t like. And I’ve read obscure books that made me wonder why they weren’t more successful. Nor am I alone in this journey. Plenty of successful authors had to go through a lot of rejection letters before finally receiving an acceptance.
Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Yeah, well, my heart isn’t willing to be reasonable. It wants to wriggle on the floor in a pile of goo for a while.