Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Keeping it in Perspective - Part 2

Rejection comes in many forms....we experience it on the playground, and high school is four long years of rejection, the whole college processes, job search and promotions, dating, mating, and rearing children. Life is filled with rejection. But we who write, who submit our work to editors and agents to accept or reject, are gluttons for punishment. We slave away on a project, pour our lives into the characters we create and send them out into the world to be "accept" or "rejected".

Well, my latest endeavor has been rejected, again.

I am surprisingly calm about it. Disappointed, yes. But mostly confused. The rejection came from the agent's assistant who thought my character's voices were "awfully dry" (Ouch!) and that the "story wasn't sufficiently compelling" (double ouch!). But what confuses me is that I'm not sure if the agent ever read the revisions. If he did and he agrees, then I somehow TOTALLY misread his suggestions for revisions both when we spoke and in the notes he sent me. He never said the story was not "compelling". He never said the characters were "dry". One was "lugubrious" (my SAT word of the year) and he didn't even comment on the other character, so should I have interpreted something in his silence that should have told me the characters were "dry"??

As with any rejection, I am trying to learn from this. How, if I am ever blessed to get an opportunity like this again, can I not blow it? What did I do wrong? Or did I do nothing wrong and the assistant simply wrote those comments because he didn't know what else to say? Or did the agent truly never read the revisions and left it to his assistant (a notion that I think is fairly rude given the fact that he asked for revisions in the first place).

At any rate, I am once again dealing with rejection. But, I am not contemplating a "Sylvia Plath" or abandoning writing forever, though I do wonder why I bother. Maybe I'll take the attitude of one of our former group members who wrote wonderful YA and middle grade, but never submitted anything. Maybe writing for the pleasure of writing is enough?

Well, right now it has to be.


  1. What I really want to say can't be written here, but it's my favorite curse word and appropriate to the situation. But you've definitely touched upon one of the issues I struggle with as well - write for enjoyment or write to be published? I think it's important to do both, because if you only write for enjoyment how can you ever improve? On the other hand, publication is pretty much a crap shoot, something that's out of our hands. Stories are rejected for many reasons, it doesn't mean that it wasn't good. Somehow you have to find a happy medium. Hang in there!

  2. Total bummer. But looking on the bright side -- and there is a bright side -- this revise improved the manuscript. Turn it around, send it right out again. Today. I am a firm believer in trying to keep at least one door open at all times. In this business of rejection, it helps to always hold out for the next possibility. Meg, keep at it. Your work is top notch and your publisher could be one mailing away.

  3. Meg: If Agent X spent that much time guiding you through a revision request, he was obviously interested in the manuscript. But when he didn't have the courtesy to respond directly to you, after reading the revised manuscript, which you spent a considerable amount of time and effort on at HIS REQUEST, Agent X is a jerk! Could you imagine the frustration of actually working with him? Get back in the hunt so you can find a better agent or editor for your new and improved manuscript!

  4. I'm always surprised at the low level of plain politeness in publishing now. If an editor or agent asks for a revision, then it seems to me a courtesy for that editor or agent to respond to the author . . . not his/her assistant!

  5. Oh Meg. I am so sorry to hear this. I so identify with the frustrating rejection thing. Most of the time they don't get to me too much, but sometimes they do. (And this one has some completely frustrating aspects, I agree.) It sounds like you are handling it really well. And I agree with Judy-- the revise definitely improved your manuscript. I hope you get it back out there soon!