Makin' Mountains Out of Molehills

Thursday, March 28, 2019
I've been flooded by rejection. My spirits are so low, they could win a limbo contest. My confidence is waning...

I'm at the point that I'm considering going the self-publishing route with my manuscript because obviously there are no agents or traditional publishers that are interested in my story. I'm on the verge of stepping back and working on another project because my manuscript is a poop sandwich in need of major revising.

Wallowing in the certainty that my manuscript will never ever become a published novel, I looked over the digital document where I'm keeping track of submissions, rejections and details I'm accumulating as I stalk research agents.

Then reality hit.

I've only gotten 4 rejections. Four. That's it. There are still 9 agents/publishers who still have my manuscript sample buried in an endless string of emails  haven't found any PC words to describe my writing are considering my submission. And I've only been submitting for a month and a half.

How could I see myself surrounded by rejection, along with having such a distorted, bleak view? Is that the nature of a writer--do we obsess over the negative and elbow the positive aside?

I decided to read some stuff on dealing with rejection and found this article.  It got my head back into the right frame of mind.

The article reminded me of several points, such as:

  • Rejection is inevitable. As a middle school teacher (my day job), I never get rejected or railed against. (Yeah, right.) As a writer, however, it can't be avoided. Even Ray Bradbury got rejected more than 800 times... And I'm whining about 4?
  • Criticism is worthy of listening to... intently. I haven't gotten any constructive criticism yet from an agent, but I did have two beta readers who helped me immeasurably. The parts of the story that don't work. The tension that's missing in spots. Those are things that--if worked on--would strengthen the manuscript. I studied the notes scrawled into the margins, and made lots of changes because of the constructive suggestions.
  • I love writing. Drafting. Revising. Submitting. It's a part of who I am. Being able to take a mediocre first draft and refine it into something fine... Well, that excites me. The NY Editors' piece said we should think of why we love writing. "Pour it all out in your ode to writing." They said if you're dealing with rejection as a writer, it will make you feel better because it will "remind you that writing is your identity, whether others accept it or not. It will shift your focus from the string of temporary rejection to the lifelong passion of sharing your writing with others." 
There's other tidbits in the article. I just wanted to remind you myself that rejection is one of the "ions" of writing, along with revision and submission. It's a part of the process. As writers we have to learn to deal with it, to embrace it. Otherwise, we'll never make any headway.

And now I'm off to stalk some agents...

Sioux Roslawski is a freelance writer in her spare time; during the day, she works with 4th-8th graders. In this post she exaggerated her despondency, although she was surprised to find it was only 4 rejections--it seemed like so many more. Someday, readers will be able to dive into her book (when it's published)  but until then, check out her blog.


Renee Roberson said...

Ray Bradbury was rejected 800 times? Lord have mercy. I guess I'll quit whining about my 12 or 13 rejections (I don't have my spreadsheet in front of me so I thankfully don't have an exact number). That also doesn't include the other times I submitted different manuscripts and quit after three or four rejections, ha ha! Thank you for sharing that article. It was good to help put some things into perspective. We're all in the rejection trenches together in some way, shape or form and eventually we will find that person who "gets" our writing and what we're trying to do, and connects with it on the emotional level we crave.

Joanne said...

Sioux, I loved this column. If your book is half as funny it's just a matter of time before the right agent responds.

Thanks for the info about Ray Bradbury's path to publication. That does put things in perspective and underscore that maybe half or more of the path to publication is paved with persistence.

Good luck!

Renee Roberson said...

Chiming back in here to add that I just received another agent rejection this morning, which said, "I'm going to pass on this one because I found it didn't spark my interest."


Margo Dill said...

I've been thinking about you and this novel a lot. :) I believe in it, and I don't think you should give up. I do think that we are currently in a very volatile publishing world where the agents and editors are being careful, perhaps that is the word I want, about WHO is telling WHAT story.

I know you did your research. I know you wrote a true book. I know that this is a part of history that needs to be told and that we can sure learn from what happened in Oklahoma during this time. I know that you have worked SO HARD on this. I just want to say don't give up. It may not be the story or the writing that is getting rejections. It may be the time that you are trying to get published is full of contention and the trends are leading to a contract right now.

Angela Mackintosh said...

I think what Margo is talking about is #ownvoices, which I'm on the fence about and maybe we should do an article on it...because shouldn't fiction be about the imagination? I get both sides though; but yeah, the marketplace is changing.

Sioux ~ Last week Margo interviewed Kelly Coon who had 106 rejections before signing with Kari Sutherland. You've only received 4 so far. Keep going! :) Sometimes I really think it's a numbers game. In the Long Form CNF class I'm taking with Butt-Kicker Ann, we have a challenge to submit one piece to 16 journals at one time. We're both single lover submitters, but it's good to play the field. :) You have an important story, a dynamic manuscript you worked hard on, and I know you will find a home for it. Don't give up. I believe in you!

Margo Dill said...

Yes, #ownvoices --I am on the fence too. Also I wonder about a university press. I know some authors who wrote historical fiction for kids and had good luck with university presses. But that was a few years ago--no idea what their funding is like nowadays.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--We are all indeed in the trenches. And thank you for the encouragement.

J. Glenn--Unfortunately, my manuscript is a serious one, not a funny one. However, when it gets published (not if) there will be a note of thanks to you. (I think you know why.)

Margo--I struggled with this issue in the beginning. However, I came to some conclusions... which I'll write about at some time (perhaps).

Mary Horner said...

Sioux, this is a great reminder to never give up. I'm sure one of your future blog posts will be titled "How I sold my novel!"

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