Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dealing with Rejection

I've been rejected... A LOT. Nearly 150 times. And that's just querying. I've entered contests I haven't gotten into. I've gotten into contests and not gotten requests. I've gotten requests from contests that ultimately turned into rejections. And that's just my writing. That doesn't count the jobs I've been rejected for, auditions I've failed to get, leadership groups I haven't gotten into, awards I've been nominated for and didn't get and on and on. Rejections happens everywhere in life. It hurts. It shouldn't be personal, but it sure as shit feels like it sometimes.

I've watched people I've come up through the writing ranks with get agents, book deals, and see their books get published. I've cheered for them and helped them. I've watched people that started after me succeed. Get agents, get book deals, get published. I've cheered for them as well. I love watching people succeed. But that still doesn't change the fact that rejection hurts. A LOT.

I've watched people explain their path to success. Y person entered x contest 3 times and finally got in. (I did too and didn't). So and so got his or her agent on their third manuscript (I'm on my fourth, third that I'm looking at querying). That person got a book deal without an agent (I have no book deals.) and on and on. It's so hard to keep going when you feel like you're behind people. And it's even harder to not compare yourself to others.

I've been thanked in so many books I've lost count. I appreciate the recognition and I'm so glad I was able to help so many others succeed. But that doesn't change the fact that I have a goal. A goal to see my name on the cover of a book, to walk into a book store and see my book on the shelf, to sign books for excited readers, to get fan mail, and one day maybe some fan art for the characters and worlds I've created.

But every time my email goes off my heart sinks. Is this another rejection? Or maybe it's just email. And the silence hurts more. Did they even get my email? Are they ignoring me? Are they ever going to respond? Who even knows anymore. It all hurts so much sometimes.
As a look back on where I started though, that's where thing start to make a little sense. I made mistakes. LOTS OF THEM. I started my first book with someone waking up and staring at themselves in the mirror and describing themselves. I didn't even finish that book.

Then euphoria, I finished a book. I proved to myself I could do it. I researched querying and then the rejections started flowing in. No requests. I entered contests and didn't get in I researched some more. I entered more contests got into a couple. No requests. How embarrassing... I got more feedback and did more research and BAM some partial requests. I never made it to fulls.

Another idea, another manuscript. I proved to myself I could complete more than one. I entered contests I got interest, but didn't get in. Then I got into a contest and actually got requests... for fulls. And I queried and got more requests for partials and fulls. And then the rejections started rolling in. I didn't get much feedback and felt lost. How do I fix this? Is it subjective? Is there something else wrong? I got more feedback from CPS. I rewrote, I queried some more. Got some more requests that also ultimately turned into rejections. Still no usable feedback. I pushed the MS aside.

I wrote another manuscript. Hey I'm getting pretty good at this. I got some feedback. I edited. I entered a contest and wasn't picked. More hurt and pain and wondering what I'm doing wrong. The answer might be nothing. But my gut tells me there's something I'm missing.

So now what? More research? More feedback? Into the query trenches for ultimately more rejections? I have to go with my gut and dive in for more feedback. But what's even the point? I haven't achieved my goal, and I've watched so many others pass me up.

The journey. I've grown so much as a writer and if I'm being completely honest, writing has helped me grow as a person too. In each step I've learned something. I've gotten a little further down the road. I've met more amazing people. Will my next manuscript be the one? Who even knows? But I have a choice, leave the path forever and never reach my goals, or continue down it and see where it takes me.

I'm the curious type so I'm going to continue down the path. And one day, maybe, I might see my dreams come true. I might get to hold that book with my name on the cover. And to me that image makes it all worth it.

Until then, I keep wandering along the path. Will you join me?