Writing can be a hard thing for a number of reasons. Even after we’ve got past all the actual writing and editing and finally have a finished product, it doesn’t get easier. There’s all the query material, the finding of agents, and of course the waiting. Damn, the waiting.
The places and people that give you a time frame for you to wait are few and far between. The number of responses you receive are only marginally higher than that. Normally, it’s just a form rejection, which is understandable given the load of stories agents have to go through. It might be easy to think that even adding a brief line should only take a moment but that’s an easy rabbit hole to fall down, and keeping on top of things is too important. As someone who’s worked in many fast paced work environments, it’s something I sympathise with.
That doesn’t mean getting a form rejection is easy. It’s never easy and it’s never fun, though I certainly appreciate not being left hanging.
The real jewel in the sea of sadness that is publishing rejections is the personalised rejection. So rare it may as well be mythical and carrying the same heavy weight of all the usual rejections, but with a glimmer of hope scattered across its surface. A kind word about the rejected piece is all it takes to turn the discouragement of the rejection into something far more. A clue as to why a piece was rejected can transform the hollow feeling of “I’m just not good enough” into something constructive and tangible that can be worked on. That one simple act can turn the whole thing around.
Being rejected always sucks, but acceptance letters aren’t the only ones that can bring a little happiness and motivation.
As you may recall, I submitted two short stories away to places earlier this year. Somewhat predictably, they both came back rejected or “unsuccessful” as was so diplomatically put in the letter. The kind tone was greatly appreciated because rejection sucks. We all know it and we’ve all been on the receiving end of it for one reason or another. It is one of those things that we must accept, pick ourselves up from, and just carry on.
I said before that the first step was the hardest. As it turns out, I was actually right. One of those stories has already been submitted elsewhere. That particular submission is probably a major case in punching above one’s weight but trying is the only thing that gets results. Thanks to taking that first step, I managed to take a second and without even half of the anxiety and dithering of the first. I’m taking those steps toward my dream of being published and keeping up the momentum.
Sending short stories for submission though is just the first in a long list of things I hope to achieve, writing wise. The end game is the accepted novel. The trouble with novels though is that they are big and eat more time than I can eat Malteasers (that’s a lot). I sent book one of my main project off to beta readers this year, at the end of February. It’s really easy to trick myself into thinking that I’m way behind, that I should be far further through this next draft than I am. What I’ve done though is go through all my beta feedback and carefully construct a game plan. Novels are big, slippery beasts and they need time and revisions need plans. I need to remind myself (and possibly you) that creating a publishable novel is a marathon, not a race.
Events like NaNoWriMo can give writers a fantastic head start – but that’s all it is. Taking the easy bit running. Then comes the hard graft and even then everyone works at different rates. I’m slow. Really slow. I also like to work on side projects to keep my creativity fresh and prevent burnout. It works for me, and after this year’s NaNo I am ready and raring to tackle revisions some more.
I just need to sit back sometimes and remind myself that this is a long game, and that being “slow” isn’t the same as being behind.