Two days ago, I received a rejection on a partial manuscript from an agent. It was expected. And I thought I would have my typical heart dropping reaction, but I didn't.
I had one of those 'huh?' moments.
Not the slap-you-across-the-back-of-the-head "Ah-Ha" moments, or even the I-finally-GET-it moments, but the calm, reflective "huh?". In the matter of minutes, I realize I had finally come full circle and had grown as a writer.
It wasn't the fact that I received this rejection--Heck, I've been getting rejected ever since I started writing and sending out submissions--so this was nothing new. What was new was the way I reacted to it.
I finally understood.
I've talked about the business of writing, the necessity of querying agents (10 at a time, altering the query to for each particular agent), and then editors (if you have a connection or an 'in' thru friendship or conference), and if you still get rejections, start another book because that one isn't ready, or good enough, or different enough, or they just bought one like it yesterday.
Instead this blog is how life teaches you wonderful lessons if you but take the time to ponder it.
When I was young, I wanted to be a veterinarian. So I wrote a letter to the local vet and I was hired. The interesting part of this was that I was 14 years old. I also never owned a pet. Period. But Dr. Gross hired me when I was 15.
We were a poor family, but since I was the youngest of nine I knew I wouldn't get my high school ring paid for by my parents. Sure they could afford it now, but since they couldn't buy my older brothers and sisters a ring they didn't feel it was fair to my siblings for me to get one.
So I earned money working at the vet--remember, I was underage AND working for way below minimum wage at the time--and bought my class ring, and my 10-speed Schwinn bike (green, 'cause I like green), AND I bought my first pair of contact lenses. Along with those few splurges, I saved my money for college.
In high school, I was 26 out of 616 students, which put me in the top 4% of the class. I never got straight A's, as I always missed that milestone by one grade. And the B was never in the same class twice! I took the ACT and got a 26 without even studying. Shoot, it's not like they had classes at the time teaching you how to take the test. They had books, but I never cracked one open.
I applied to OSU (Oklahoma State University) because of their veterinary school. I didn't bother with applying anywhere else. Why? I wanted to go to vet school. I was accepted without a hitch.
Mid-freshman year, I changed my major to Medical Technology because the idea of four more years of school AFTER pre-Veterinary Science became overwhelming. The transition was smooth because I knew I loved the lab when I worked at the vet and this was simply transferring my love to the human hospital world. All my classes transferred. So no harm, no foul.
During my Junior year, I applied to three MT schools in Tulsa. I didn't bother with any other schools in OKC because I knew I could live at home during my Senior year MT internship. After application and interview, I was offered an internship at all three hospitals, but I picked the hospital I wanted--St. Francis.
There were tons more instances throughout my professional work life. I would set my mind to something and without much effort I would succeed.
Fast forward to writing. . .
In my late 20's I took a writing class at a local junior college. Though I got an A in the course, it wasn't as easy as I thought and I stopped writing. For years, I blamed the teacher, but in reality it was me. This writing thing wasn't as easy as learning the genetics of the fruit fly. It wasn't about studying information and using this information to come up with the correct answer. It wasn't the analytical part of my mind that had to deal with the subjectivity of the creative side of the brain.
So I quit writing. For over 12 years.
After I had the kidlet, I thought I'd try writing again. So I started writing a romance novel. I knew this story was the best thing ever and entered it in a local contest--fully expecting to win, mind you.
Yeah, I think I was generously given a 34 out of 175 points. THAT HURT!
I didn't get it. How could I get an F??
One--it was by thinking along the analytical lines of grades that didn't help. :-)
So I joined RWA, RWI and various crit groups, blah, blah, blah. And I still expected to final in a bunch of contests--never happened, well, it happened once. I still expected agents to snap me up--never got a manuscript request. I still expected to publish my first novel within 2- years of starting to write, then that changed to 5-years, and 10-years, AND . . . you get the picture. I had to self-publish for the world to see my stories.
And though I have a few fans, most of my stories aren't hitting my target audience, which I find sad. I'm writing for young people who aren't reading my words. Perhaps my stories weren't as ready as I thought they were. Perhaps I suck at marketing myself and my product. Perhaps my timing is off. Perhaps . . . whatever the reason, I I tried.
I failed, but I did try.
It may be another 20 years, or never, before I ever see my picture book stories in print and available in every store for youngsters to read and enjoy. Though saddened by this thought, I'm actually okay with it. Oh, I had been saying those words for years, but now I actually feel them.
All it takes is writing the right story, at the right time to find the right person for it to happen. One can also find a needle in a haystack, but it takes perseverance and patience to make it happen, along with a reality check that it might never happen.
And as I started this Reader's Digest condensed story of my life, I have to say, "Isn't life interesting?" My career life had actually been very, very easy. Oh, I had tough moments and all that, but hindsight has proven that overall I've had it pretty easy when I use the analytical side of my brain. So when I started using the creative side, I had to--I really hate to say this, but I will--I had to suffer for my art--writing.
I had to learn all those lessons that I zipped right past in my previous career. And for the last five years, when I said I was okay with rejection, I really wasn't. I still thought I was the icing on everyone's cake.
But I think I've finally grown to the point that I'm really okay it.
Isn't life interesting? It tests us until we finally 'get' it. . . and I'm okay with it.