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Wednesday, June 23, 2010
How do you deal with rejection?
To quote Jenny: "Not well."
I mean, come on, rejection sucks. You can prepare yourself for it. You can tell yourself over and over that this is a subjective business (true), that one man's (editor's) trash is another's treasure (also true), that all it takes is one person to love it (true), that they're making enormous mistakes and are going to kick themselves mightily like all the editors who passed on Harry Potter (okay, not likely, but a girl can dream, right?) but in the end, all you want to do is stomp your feet and shake your wee fists at the heavens and call everyone involved in saying "no" big ol' poopyheads (even if you know that's not in the slightest bit true-it's a business after all). Then you go eat lots of chocolate, drink wine, and watch Love Actually for the 483rd time. (That last one might just be me...)
And you know what? That's all okay. Up to a point. I've been told wallowing is good-- up to a point. I actually suck at it-- I have this mentality that demands I be all stoic and suck it up because I was well aware of what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this writing gig. And regardless of situation, I also have very little patience for extended wallowing-- actually, I have very little patience for wallowing period. But here's the thing-- sometimes, you just have to give yourself permission to wallow.
I never realized how important that could be until the most recent rejection, which came just a couple of weeks ago. I won't lie- it was spectacularly rough. You spend enough time in this industry, you'll hear every editor you come in contact with talk about how they're so tired of the status quo, how they want something different, unique, that gem that every editor wants to discover, the book that will really touch people. And if you have ambition and anything resembling an ego-- and yes, I do--you imagine that it's your book, the manuscript you love and have given your all to, that will be that book. And in this case, it's a book I have huge faith in, that I know is good, because despite all the rejections it's received, it's never been because the book wasn't good. It's because it was different. And editors don't know what to do with it. I think that's the hardest rejection to receive, in a lot of ways-- the one where you get the compliments on your craft and your storytelling and the fact that you've tackled an emotional, difficult subject with sensitivity and skill and made it work, but...
Oh, that "but..." is a bitch, isn't it?
And I knew it going in. I knew this book was difficult and it would take that one editor who loves it as much as I do and who has the power to push it through (because let's say it again, this is a business). Publishing is rough right now. And as much as editors might say that they want something beyond the status quo, so long as the status quo continues to sell, it's what's going to be bought. Yes, there are always going to be exceptions to the rule and yes, it stings that I couldn't be that exception (there's that ego thing again), but in the end, it is what it is. What am I going to do, quit?
So we come back to how I deal-
My writing group, the Tiaras, has a twenty-four hour rule. We're allowed to wallow in the muddy, boggy, chocolate-and-wine-soaked, romcom movie depths of disappointment for twenty-four hours. Then we haul ourselves out, shower, and sit our butts back down in the chair and get on with it, whatever form "it" takes. For some, it's the next project, for others, it's deciding where next to submit, for me, it's making a plan. Hello, Virgo here. I planned my midlife crisis fer heaven's sake! So it's a case of assessing where I'm at with everything, talking to my agent, deciding whether we're going to continue to submit or shelve the project for a while, and what the status is of my current projects. Even if nothing is set in stone, I feel better for having laid it all out with her-- it's just my particular quirk.
Oh, and more chocolate never hurts.