“Dear Ms. Evans: Thank you for your query. As for your material, I will be passing. I’m just not enthusiastic enough about the concept of your story to feel like I’d be the agent for your project…and best of luck in your search for representation.”
Hello again, friends! It has been a very long time since I have written on this blog and that has bothered me more than once. Hopefully I can start writing more regularly, but so far, life has prevented me from writing as regularly as I have wanted to. However, if I didn’t have a life and go out and live in the world, then I would have no material to write things on for you all, so it is kinda like a double-edged sword. And I was reminded how real life can feel sometimes as today became more than just a regular day, but a monumental one for me:
Today, ladies and gentleman, I received my first rejection letter *coughemailcough* on a query for my debut novel, Path of the Phoenix. (I even provided you with a snippet of all the best parts from it above). I learned a lot from this rejection letter, and it may not be what you are expecting. But stay with me, for hopefully it’ll be an interesting read.
The first reaction to expect and what I should have felt was a dagger piercing into my heart of hearts, digging deep as my eyes scanned over the words “I will be passing” or “I’m just not enthusiastic enough” (emphasis added) as I checked my email today. Here, the agent that responded is talking about the story that I have created and slaved over (quite enjoyably, tbh, but the work is still grueling, especially during the editing process) since my sophomore year. This is a story that I very much love and I hope the world will, one day, too. And here is someone telling me that my work isn’t quite enough for them, so thanks, nice try, but sorry not sorry. Yeah, it should hurt, a lot.
Instead, I felt elated.
Before you think I’m psycho, please let me explain. There are two things that this shows me and which explains my elation instead of depression: how much I have grown and how much I have accomplished. You see, self-esteem and me have not always seen eye to eye (more often than not, we are complaining about how what I see and how the world sees what I see don’t add up, as I’m usually the one who falls short), so this should have been a major blow for me. Even though I have dealt with rejection often enough in a plethora of forms, it doesn’t change the fact that rejection hurts. And this is so much more than being told “no” to going out on a date or the scale telling me that weight loss idea is still far-stretched: this is someone holding me back from my dream. This should hurt worst of all.
But instead, I was excited. I still am. I printed out the email, pasted it on bright, blood red construction paper and hung it on my wall, beside some drawings that a really good friend did for me of characters actually from this story I am trying to get represented. And you know what I wrote on this construction paper, in bold, large black letters: MY MOTIVATION. FIRST REJECTION.
And I was excited because this shows how far I have come, as both a person and as a writer. My initial reaction of excitement proves to me that I have truly conquered some dark demons of my past. My gut reaction was to think positively of a situation that isn’t what I wanted it to be, instead of letting this ruin my night and carry me into a darkness that, quiet honestly, a few years ago, would have lasted through the rest of April and well into May. That accomplishment is very personal and one only I notice, really — this transformation from a negative person to my current positive self — but it means the world to me.
As a writer, this is a day I have dreamed of. Not getting rejected, because no one wants to get rejected, especially concerning something they care deeply about. But I was excited for what the rejected meant, not on the surface, but what it truly represented. In order to get rejected, I would have to have a query and a synopsis written about a story that I had created. I would have to have a finished product — a story, a narrative, an entire novel, complete. I would have had to make progress, transforming a blank Word Document into a story filled with people, characters and emotions, events and transitions and transformations; filled with growth and development; with changes, climaxes and a nasty cliffhanger to end it all. I would have had to gain the confidence of believing not only in this story that I have poured out from my heart, my head and soul, but also have the confidence in myself as a writer (and coming from a person who I truly believe had depression in high school and lived under to the belief that I was not good enough for anyone or anything, this is huge to me).
A rejection letter means that all of this has happened. Everything listed right there ^^ above has happened. I have done it all. It less than two years, this has all occurred. I went from an aspiring author to an unpublished author. Now, I am an author seeking representation. I have a novel under my belt and a sequel that I am already writing. I have sent out eight queries and have a plan to send one more, and that’s only my first wave. I recognize that I have a lot more work to do and I know my work is far from perfect. But what is one rejection letter in the midst of all of this? How can one rejection letter measure up to everything I have accomplished, all of the work I am doing and everything I have left to do?
Let me tell you: it pales in comparison.
Find your dream. Discover it. Believe in it. Share it. Pray about it. Tell people about it. Share your excitement. Chase after that dream with every fiber of your being and believe in it with all of them, too. And when you feel like you don’t have enough, dig deep into the depths of your heart to find the courage and the belief in yourself that you never thought you had. And share your failures, so that you can turn those things into excitements, too.
And no matter what you do, don’t you ever dare give up.