Deflecting Rejection


Fiction writers have to be resilient. We spend hours, days and months creating make-believe worlds that most likely no one will ever read. I just completed my fifth novel in five years, spending seven months of daily commutes on buses and ferries, and at the end of it, sending out twenty queries to agents. Most likely, none will be interested. People who don’t write and writers who have never sent out manuscripts think this is a failure on the writer’s part, that if the book is good enough, it will be snatched up. Years ago, I thought this. But this isn’t the case. There are a number of factors that keep an agent from requesting the full manuscript to read–the market and timing being two of the strongest factors. It isn’t easy for us. Why do we go on?

Hope, I think. I hope that the next query letter I write for the next novel I write will be the letter that makes an agent say, “Please send me the full manuscript to read.” All these novels I’ve written, and no agents have asked to even read the whole thing. Is it my writing? Or is it something else? I want to believe it is something else.  But rejection can weigh a writer down. Two novels ago, I told myself I can’t do this anymore. The novel I just wrote was often painful to get through. Yet I finished it, and I sent out queries, and I expect rejection, and I got some, and I got some silence (the worst kind of rejection), and I got one request for the introductory material from an agent who asked for introductory material from the novel before this one, and who rejected it.

But three days ago, I got an idea for another novel. I feel pretty good about it. I am hopeful, again. And so, I will put aside the books I had planned on reading, and the book clubs I had planned on joining, and I will write. I will board the 7:20 am bus and the 8:05 am ferry and the 8:45 am bus, and I will write. Later, I will get on the 5:30 pm bus and the 6:20 pm ferry and the 7:05 pm bus, and I will write. I will do this for months until my next novel is done.

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