Being a writer is a hurry-up-and-wait business. Either you set deadlines for yourself, or, because you’re under contract, you have deadlines set for you. So you push yourself so you make those deadlines, and then you send the story off . . . and you wait. You wait for the agent or editor to say yea or nay. And while you wait, you’re supposed to start something new . . . stay busy. And that’s a good idea, but even while working on something new or staying busy, a part of you is waiting. Waiting and worrying.
I usually start out certain what I sent was wonderful, but within a few days of not hearing anything back the self-doubts arise. Was the plot unique enough? Was the pacing fast enough? Too fast? Should I have developed the characters more? Will the story be turned down because it doesn’t have enough depth?
The self-talk also begins. I tell myself it’s too early for a response, to relax and be patient. I tell myself if this agent (or editor) doesn’t like the story, someone else might. (Will.) I remind myself that I have sold other stories (27 so far), that there are readers who like my style of writing, and editors and agents who have liked my work in the past. I tell myself to put that story aside and concentrate on another story.
But I can’t completely ignore those nagging self-doubts.
I’ve always told myself writers are in a better position than actors. With a writer it’s the story that may be rejected; with an actor, it’s the person who is rejected. “Sorry, hopeful star, you’re too tall, too fat, too old, too ugly…”
Nevertheless, when a story is rejected, it’s like being told your child is too ugly. It still hurts.
It’s been a week since A KILLER PAST was sent off. I won’t tell you if it’s rejected. I’ll simply pour myself a glass of wine and sit down with a box of tissues, and I’ll mope for a day or two. But then I’ll send it out again, because that’s what writers have to do. To succeed we can’t let the rejections hold us back. If the rejection included suggestions, I’ll consider them, and if I feel they’re valid, I’ll make changes. And before sending it out
again, I may read through the story one more time, to make sure I don’t see areas that could be improved, but otherwise, off it will go…and I’ll remind myself how many times Harry Potter was rejected.
On the other hand, if the story ever makes it to contract, you’ll hear about it, loud and clear…and I’ll probably say I never had any doubts. (Ha!)