A big fat chunk of November has passed us by and, once again, here I am apologizing for not blogging. Bleh. I’ll do better. I swear.
About 10 days ago, I received the toughest emotional blow since I started submitting my novel to agents and editors. Another nice rejection. This one turned me into a weepy pile of goo for days. My poor sweetheart! He had to endure evenings with me curled up into a damp comma on the couch. The dear lovely man cooked my dinners, rubbed my back and tried to soothe my hurt feelings. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really understand the whole writer seeking traditional publishing for her first novel thing. Here’s an example:
ME: I feel so hopeless. I feel like everyone tells me I’m a talented writer, but I’ve written the wrong story.
HIM: But you’re writing a new book. Maybe that one will have a better chance of getting published.
ME: Holy crap! That’s like telling the mother of a murdered child she should cheer up because she’s pregnant for another child.
HIM: Want me to pour you a glass of wine?
I guess this rejection was so hard because it felt like I was very CLOSE this time. I was invited to submit my full manuscript to a medium-sized publishing house after pitching my novel to one of their editors at a writing conference back in May. Even though he wasn’t the editor for their YA list, he was very encouraging and seemed to fully appreciate the 1977 Star Wars element in my story. Two months later, at another writing conference, I met a lovely author who is published by the same house and she emailed the editor to endorse my book. After waiting the full ten weeks (as recommended in their submission guidelines) I sent a quick follow-up email and got back an encouraging response. They needed more time to consider my manuscript.
Which means that they were actually reading and considering my work. Suddenly my expectations went from a dim glimmer of distant hope to WOO HOO!!
Then came the final email last week. And you know before you open it that an email can’t be good news. They actually CALL authors when they want to offer a publishing contract. So I opened the email with a dull throbbing pain in my chest. It was the nicest rejection so far. The assistant editor told me they enjoyed my story and my narrative voice, they just thought the novel would be a “tough sell” in today’s YA market. Seriously? How is it that none of these publishing folk seem to understand the Star Wars fan base? Star Wars fans are LEGION. And there’s a huge chunk of them who are Star Wars geek girls. Trust me. With the right (fairly inexpensive) social marketing strategy, it is NOT a tough sell.
But you can’t argue with a rejection. You can just keep submitting and hoping and wishing and praying.
Last weekend we volunteered/attended the Dahlonega Literary Festival. It was an amazing weekend! Helped me get some of the wind back in my sails. More on that later.
In the meantime, here’s a Longfellow poem I read over and over whenever I’m feeling discouraged about the whole writing process:
O ye dead Poets, who are living still
Immortal in your verse, though life be fled,
And ye, O living Poets, who are dead
Though ye are living, if neglect can kill,
Tell me if in the darkest hours of ill,
With drops of anguish falling fast and red
From the sharp crown of thorns upon your head,
Ye were not glad your errand to fulfil?
Yes; for the gift and ministry of Song
Have something in them so divinely sweet,
It can assuage the bitterness of wrong;
Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow