The rejection letters have started to pop up in my inbox. I’ve begun submitting query letters to various agents, with no results. It’s all form rejections, the type that nicely, politely, sweetly state that “I’m not the right agent for this.” I have to wonder if that’s a gracious way of saying, “Why on earth did you query me with THIS?”
I had my letter critiqued last week via webinar by an agent I respect. As she discussed what a good query letter looks like, I mentally congratulated myself on how great mine was: my letter was in great shape.
Then the agent critiqued my letter. She found the transition between the first two letters confusing, questioned one statement, and wanted more elaboration on how one element affected another. Her points were valid but it hurt to know that, no, my letter wasn’t in great shape.
Thankfully, she was kind, but I was still in tears by the time the webinar ended. I now know why I’ve been rejected by agents and I know what I have to do.
Rewrite. Revise. Resubmit (albeit with my fingers shaking as I hit “send”).
We all face times when we’re rejected.
- Men ask women on dates and get shot down.
- People apply for jobs and get turned down, perhaps after an interview or two.
- A would-be singer auditions for American Idol and is insulted by Simon Cowell.
- An athlete trains for a race, determined to win, and doesn’t.
Personally, I’m easily discouraged. It doesn’t really matter if the person is kind, insulting or non-responsive. It’s still rejection and it hurts.
So what keeps us from crumbling under a disappointing rejection and keep trying?
For me, it’s encouragement.
I’ve got a few writer friends who are either published or close to being published. Each of them has told me of their dozens of rejection letters before they found Mr. or Ms. Perfect Agent. In most cases, it took years of work to find them and then more years to find the publisher. But they love to write, they dreamed of publication, and they were determined to keep going.
Hearing their stories encourages me.
Then there’s the people who read my writing and tell me they enjoy it. These people may not be writers themselves. But their words, whether mentioned as we pass in the church hallways or written on Facebook or typed in the comments section of my blog, help me know that I need to keep writing.
That encourages me, too.
Then there’s a third group: the friends who never, ever ask about my writing. Oddly, this helps because it reminds me that yes, I have a life apart from my words on paper. Publishing my novel won’t validate my life. I’m more than a writer; I’m also a wife, mom, Christian, friend and obsessive workout fanatic. These friends encourage me to see my life as more than a writer who keeps revising her query letter, submitting, and receiving rejection emails. And that keeps me going.
Last week, as I logged off the webinar, an email popped up in my inbox. A writer friend had sent me a message on Facebook. Tears still streamed down my face, sobs racked my body, as I read the note. It was exactly what I needed as I faced my devastation at how the agent had received my query letter. It helped.
I was still aching inside. But knowing that someone else had faced rejection and come through it was enough to keep me from going off the deep end and believing I should quit writing.
Encouragement serves as an antidote to rejection’s ability to dishearten us. It won’t inoculate against the sting. But it can ease the symptoms of the heartsickness that would otherwise keep us in bed, sniffling into our tissues and crying for days on end, believing we’re failures. It may just help us recover from the discouragements of life and the rejections of other people.
So how about you? Has there been a time when someone’s encouraging words helped you overcome the hurt of rejection?