You sift through line after line of not just the story, but the cover letter, the synopsis, the query. You revise, then revise again, and again. You google the agent/editor and read every entry to find out what she likes and dislikes. You carefully follow the guidelines, ensure the font and margins are exact.
You offer this creation to the publishing gods.
And it’s not good enough.
Sometimes the reason for the rejection is something that is not in your power to control. The agent/editor may already have a similar project in the works, your query may have been lost in the jungle of the slush pile, or your main character’s name is Tad and the editor may have had some unpleasant experiences involving a toilet bowl and a thug named Tad in high school.
Whatever the reason, you are not supposed to take it personally.
It is your blood, your sweat, your tears, your ink stain that will never come off your favorite purple shirt.
What can you do to lift yourself out of your sinking mud of despair?
I turn to Anne Lamott and her book, Bird by Bird:
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work; you don’t give up.”
I remind myself of the day I explained the publishing process to a group of elementary students. During the rejection part, one student blurted out this fascinating tidbit: Dr. Seuss was rejected 92 times before he published And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street (it was actually 27 times, but who’s counting?)
So now here I am, waiting, watching, and working… towards those 92 rejections. So far I have three.
Guess I have a long way to go…