When In Doubt…

Hello, hello!  I thought I’d share a little update on the agent search saga.  I received a rejection from the agent who requested a full copy of my manuscript.  It was the first rejection that I couldn’t attribute to slush reader denial, and I admit it threw me a bit, emotionally.  They loved Bailey (the main character), but they suggested reworking it into a non-fantasy book because they felt my writing was strongest in the non-fantastical parts.  I panicked.  How was I supposed to rewrite this particular story without fantasy and keep it from turning into a memoir or something similar (there’s too much of my younger self in Bailey to keep her in the realm of literary fiction even if I managed to peel the fantastical parts away)?  I’ve always been against crossing into CNF, especially when it involves elements of my own life (I’m not that interesting, I swear).  I have nothing against people who want to write that type of stuff, but it’s just not who I am.  So, I let myself be overcome by doubt for a couple of days.

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Me normally?  Kyoya.  Me on rejection day?  The twins.  I will never be Tamaki, though.

It’s been a long time since I’ve received a critique (no matter how small) from someone who held my inner writer’s fragile little ego in their hands and had the ability to crush it.  I love my critique group dearly, but I know they’ll give honest feedback in a friendly manner.  When I was in school, I actually liked the people who were brutal with their feedback.  I welcomed it.  But over the past couple of years, I kind of forgot that a critique is just someone else’s opinions, whether that someone is a friend or a teacher or an agent or whoever.  It’s simply one person’s opinion.  Yeah, it’s harder to hear some people’s thoughts than others, but the story is still mine.  I can’t help but feel like I’ve gotten a little weak for forgetting that.

For a couple of days after I received the rejection, I stopped working on my current WIP (the second book in the series).  What was the point if I was just going to have to change the first book completely?  Then, I remembered something my mentor for my thesis semester (Elizabeth Hand) wrote in my evaluation.  She basically said that I was always extremely open to suggestions for edits and revisions, but that I had zero qualms about saying no to things because I knew what was best for my story.  That was when I started working on my WIP again.  This series started as litfic and went nowhere.  It wasn’t until someone suggested I write it as the kind of stuff I actually enjoyed reading that it started moving forward on its own.  I just can’t abandon that story yet.

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My usual reaction when I come across suggestions that don’t fit my stories.

Sometimes, we all need a little reminder that we’re the creator of the worlds we write about.  We choose which suggestions and comments to implement and which ones to ignore.  That’s our decision to make as writers.  I know it’s hard to ignore some people’s critiques, especially when they’ve been in the business a lot longer than you and when they’re successful and you’re just getting started.  Be open to suggestions, but don’t be afraid to say no if it doesn’t feel right.  You know what’s best for your stories.

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No matter how hard it is.

So yeah, when in doubt, trust yourself.  I’m going to try to remember this as future rejections roll in.  I can’t promise I won’t temporarily panic, but I’ll get over it given time.  If you’re in a similar situation, you’ll be okay too.  Let yourself freak out a little if that’s your thing (I, personally, prefer to avoid that step), but then remember that you know what you’re doing.  We will succeed… eventually.

One Step Forward

Howdy, howdy!  Yesterday, after numerous rejections from agents (all of which were form rejections or close to it), I received my first full manuscript request.  I won’t say from where or who, because I understand that this is by no means an offer of representation, but it’s one step closer and that makes me super excited.  Even if I end up with a rejection at the end of this, at least I can say someone who is a complete stranger to me was interested in my work, which is a huge deal since I always wonder if people are only supportive of me because I’m cripple (it’s happened before).  Anyway, I’m getting off track.  Today, I want to talk about how the little steps are just as exciting and deserving of celebration as the ultimate goal you’re working towards.

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Kitty has the right idea.  One step at a time.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I honestly needed a reminder of it myself: the little successes are still successes.  I admit that I’ve been down lately with all of the rejections.  I let the feelings of being a failure and an imposter get to me.  It’s made writing hard and submitting things less than appealing.  I forgot that submitting things and writing words were little steps on the writing journey in their own right, whether they end well or not.   With all of the rejection writers (and artists of all kinds) face on a daily basis, we have to remember to celebrate the little things as well as the endgame.

Did you finish that short story or chapter today?  Treat yourself!  Is that your tenth (or hundredth) form rejection?  Take pride in the fact that you submitted that many times.  Did you get a lovely personal rejection?  That deserves a toast!  Without all of these little steps, some of which feel more like stumbles, we wouldn’t be moving forward.  And as long as we’re pushing on, we’re trying, and that’s all that matters.

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This applies to life way more than it should.

Sometimes, we go so far down the rabbit hole of imposter syndrome that we need a hand getting back to a point where we can see the little steps.  This boost could come as a surprise acceptance or a request for more, but more often than not, it comes from the support of people in the same situation.  We aren’t alone in these feelings.  If you can’t celebrate your own steps forward, help someone else to celebrate theirs.  Most of the time, it’s easier to notice other people’s achievements, so you’ll cheer them on and tell them that rejection is just one step closer to an acceptance, then eventually you’ll realize these are the things you should also be celebrating for yourself.  Help each other and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.  Celebrate your successes together!

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Support each other like these puppies support this baby!

So yeah, even though it’s easy to get distracted by the big endgame, don’t forget the little things that get you there.  It might take longer than you want, but if you stop trying, you’ll definitely never get to where you want to end up.  Keep moving forward.  Keep supporting each other.  But most importantly, keep celebrating all the little steps as well as the leaps and bounds.

Form Rejections

Hello, hello!  Last Thursday, I sent out a few of the queries I was talking about in my last post.  Friday morning, I woke up to a form rejection from one of the companies that declare a no from one agent is a no from all of them.  They didn’t even take the time to personalize it with my name or the title of my “material,”  and the signature wasn’t from the agent I addressed my query to, but instead from an associate agent.  It had been sent at 8:04 in the morning.  I thought my first agent rejection would be devastating, that it would be so much harder to take than all of the other writerly rejections I’ve received.  I was wrong.  A form rejection that basic was pretty much the best first agent rejection I could have asked for.

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Cute animal memes help.

First, I suppose I should explain what a form rejection is for people who might not be sure.  It’s basically a vague letter turning you down.  Most of the ones I’ve gotten have an “it’s not you, it’s us” vibe.  They start with a firm no, usually followed up by explaining that your story doesn’t mesh with what they’re looking for, and ending with something along the lines of “feel free to submit to us in the future.”  Most of them are polite enough to include your name and the title of your story, at least in the realm of magazine/ezine rejections (not sure about agent rejections yet).

What do form rejections mean to me?  Honestly, they tend to be an indication that my story didn’t even make it out of the slush pile, that it probably didn’t even make it to human eyes (and I might be entirely wrong, but it’s what I like to think).  The places I submit to get hundreds of submissions a week.  There’s no way they can read each piece and give them the attention they deserve.  Slush readers weed through the ever-expanding piles and do their best to pick pieces the editors will enjoy or grab names that will bring in more readers.  I’m guessing a similar process occurs in the agencies.  I might not appreciate the whole process, but I understand it.  As writers, rejection is a part of the game and we can’t question each one we get.

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Okay, but only for a little while, then back to work.

So, yeah.  A barebones form rejection from an associate agent was exactly the kind of rejection I needed.  It doesn’t mean that Garnets and Guardians is unwanted trash.  It doesn’t reflect on my writing in any way.  It simply means the agency wasn’t hooked by my query, if they even read it at all.  And that’s okay.  I’m more worried about when the rejections get personal, because then I’ll know it’s my fault.  I might start getting really discouraged at that point.  Until then, I’ll just keep writing and submitting and collecting my rejections.  That’s all I can do.

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Don’t let the rejections get you down!

How do you feel about form rejections?  If they get you down, do you have any kind of ritual to help improve your mood again?  Feel free to share any thoughts, stories, questions, or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Rejected and Discouraged and That’s Okay

Hello there!  It’s almost the new year, so I should probably be writing about resolutions and all of that good stuff, but no.  I don’t do the whole “New Year’s Resolution!” thing.  Honestly, all they are 99.9% of the time are promises that aren’t followed through on.  Yeah… I’ll pass.  Instead, I’m going to be a bit of a downer and ramble for a while about how rejection and self-doubt are pretty much the norm for a writer.  But that’s okay.  It’s not the end of the world.

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Oh, Calvin.  Never change.

 

So, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I haven’t written anything aside from blog posts and a measly 200 words this month.  And no, I have no plans to remedy that in the next few days.  Why?  Because, I reached a point where I was feeling utterly discouraged and hit that “what’s the point?” wall.  For everyone who’s wondering if maybe I’m depressed, no.  It’s completely different.  It’s that angry “want to punch someone (except it’s not really anyone’s fault, so I have no one to direct said anger at) in the reproductive organs” type of feeling.  For me, at least.  Super annoying, right?

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Face works, too.  Not going to lie, this is oddly cathartic to watch.

 

 Nothing big happened to make me feel this way, it was just an accumulation of all the little things.  I suppose the most obvious thing would be the rejection slips that keep coming in from the places I submit short stories to.  I know they’re the hardest part of this whole writing gig for a lot of people, and yeah, I admit that sometimes they hurt, but I was ready for that going in.  It wasn’t until I got one last month (when I was already starting to feel the rage build) that it really got to me.  I had to stop and remind myself that rejection doesn’t equal failure.  My manuscript probably wasn’t even read!  Not that that makes any of this better, but it most likely sat in a slush pile for six months (and that’s a quick response time) only to have someone glance at the first sentence (if that much) and hit the reject button.  Call me cynical, but that’s how I picture it.

Speaking of six months in a slush pile, that’s what gets to me the most: the waiting.  Whether you’re sending it to a magazine or an agent or just your best writer pal for feedback, writing is mostly a waiting game.  Contrary to my behavior, I’m actually an exceedingly impatient person.  I was raised to get things done in a timely manner, to always meet deadlines, yadda yadda.  You know that whole “if you’re only five minutes early, you’re late” thing?  That.  So, the waiting gets to me.  I start thinking things must really suck (which is fine, just tell me that so I can fix it or move on).  But people in the writing field, like many creative folks, seem to have no concept of the movement of time outside of their stories.  I’m going to have to get used to that.  But, for now, I’m wallowing in the self-doubt it causes.

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Yes!

 

But you know what?  It’s okay to wallow sometimes.  Taking a long break can be helpful.  Recharging is needed.  In the past month, I’ve tweaked the plot on my novel-in-progress, come up with two ideas for other novels (possibly screenplays, I haven’t decided), and finally took the time to look at my screenplay-in-progress (which I’m thinking about getting back to in January).  I think I just needed some time to refuel.  In other words, know when to push through the pity party and when to embrace it.

I’ll see you next year!