Rejection: Tempting the Fates

So, I wrote a post about Michael Phelps last week and how he used rejection and ridicule (who's laughing now, twitty teenagers who made fun of him?  Huh? Huh?) to spur himself on.  I mentioned that perhaps we writers could take a page from ol' Michael's book and use that same technique when we get rejected ourselves.

Ah, the universe is such a trickster.

Because it was only a few short days later that I got a rejection from an agent. 

This wasn't a nice rejection, where the agent makes a few pithy suggestions about how to improve the novel.  It wasn't even a rejection that was signed by the agent.  It was a flippin' form letter. 

I haven't gotten a form letter rejection in ages.  To make matters worse, this particular agent is known for representing many of the mentors and alumni of the MFA program I attended. 

And I get a flippin' form letter from her.

The funny thing is, I found the letter in the stack of mail and I knew.  First of all, the  SASEs are a dead give-away and immediately recognizable.  But I swear, the energy of the rejection was contained on the envelope itself, and I knew without even opening it what the result was going to be.

I whined and moaned a bit on Twitter and my tweeples cheered me up.  And then I realized I'd written that post about Michael Phelps and loftily suggested we all emulate him when it came to rejection.

So now I'm going to.  Watch out New York publishing world, cuz I'm mad!  I'm angry, and I'm inspired and, just like Michael (I think we can all call him Michael now, don't you?) I'm going to use this anger to fuel my success.

Oh, there's just one drawback that occurs to me.  Michael can train harder, swim harder, eat more calories for breakfast and go out there and break records all by his little own self.  I can write harder, write better, send my novel out more, obsess about eating too much for breakfast, and I still can't necessarily achieve success all by my little own self.  I need an agent. 

That's the rub about the publishing industry and the film biz–you can put your heart and soul into it and still you have to rely on someone else to recognize your brilliance. 

So I guess all I can do is do my best and work my hardest and let the universe, trickster that it is non-withstanding, make things happen.

And be grateful I don't have to spend hours every day swimming.  I love my man Michael, but I'm the worst swimmer in the world.

10 thoughts on “Rejection: Tempting the Fates”

  1. Most of the time, I consider myself pretty immune to rejection, but once in awhile they hit me hard. I see beginning writers really struggle with it–they send out one story and expect it to win the contest or get published in a glossy national mag. When the rejection comes, they are devastated. It truly is a good thing to learn how to deal with rejection.

  2. Ditto, I hate being in lots of water. That stupid Jaws movie messed me up for anything but the shower and a jacuzzi ๐Ÿ™‚

    Rejection sucks, but being a writer means being stubborn and brave enough to keep going. I’ve been using that “I’ll show you” energy to fuel me a long time. It works, too. If only to make me feel good about doing what I love!

  3. I agree entirely, rejection is certainly never welcome – somehow the sting is never really diminished by time.

    I might be useful, even therapeutic to note that publishers are in business and, it is the business side of things, not the quality of your work which can be responsible for getting a rejection. Publishers may look at the market and reading current trends decide that at this moment it trends favor certain tastes.

    They may have recently committed to publish several other authors and can’t justify taking on anything else right now. Agents may also be plugged into what’s happening with publishers and know in advance that pitching a new book would be ill timed.

    All the same, what every reason for rejection it simply stinks. It stinks even more when the manner in which you’re rejected seems so impersonal.

    Your analogy with Michael Phelps seems apt for writers where, being published really is a sink or swim proposition.

  4. I agree entirely, rejection is certainly never welcome – somehow the sting is never really diminished by time.

    I might be useful, even therapeutic to note that publishers are in business and, it is the business side of things, not the quality of your work which can be responsible for getting a rejection. Publishers may look at the market and reading current trends decide that at this moment it trends favor certain tastes.

    They may have recently committed to publish several other authors and can’t justify taking on anything else right now. Agents may also be plugged into what’s happening with publishers and know in advance that pitching a new book would be ill timed.

    All the same, what every reason for rejection it simply stinks. It stinks even more when the manner in which you’re rejected seems so impersonal.

    Your analogy with Michael Phelps seems apt for writers where, being published really is a sink or swim proposition.

  5. Well, I was trying to think of something witty to say like… When I grow up I’ll become a literary agent and get you published, but then thought better of it that it was a stupid thing to say anyway and now I find myself lost for words!
    One thing about it is that blogs tend not to reject us.. At least our own blogs don’t. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Marvin, I love the sink or swim analogy and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it! Thank you for pointing it out.

    And Derek, your attempt at wit made me laugh, so it was successful–thanks!

    I’m telling y’all, that confession really is good for the soul, because my usual thing is to hide away and not tell anyone when I get rejected–like it is shameful or something. But sharing it with everyone has definitely made it easier to deal with!

  7. Yes Charlotte, I discovered the power of sharing many years ago in a Zen workshop. When you share, you dilute the issue and the more you share it, exactly the way it is, the more dilute it becomes until it is no longer an issue.

    The problem is, that the ego tends to get in the way and we are concerned about how we may look or what other people are going think about us.

    The answer is, they are already thinking things about us already. What difference does it make? ๐Ÿ™‚

    I just knew I would end up having something to say about this post anyway. I rarely keep my mouth shut for long. And now I suppose people are going to think things about me! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Thanks, Derek, for this insight. I actually did start to worry what people would think–that they would think I’m a terrible writer if I shared, but once I started writing that all went away. Good thing to remember.

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