Top Twenty

Top Twenty

I've written before about how writers, even the great ones, suffer from "corrosive self-doubt," a term coined by the great James Lee Burke.

Dismissed, Rejected, Moving On...

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "rejection" as "the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc." To me, lately, there have been two kinds of rejection. The first came from the top literary agent at the top New York literary agency. It was a form letter in response to my sending a proposal for my new novel (not a Thomas O'Shea story). He explained that he receives 300 queries daily, and for some reason, mine did not grab his attention. Understood. I was confident he would not be interested, but it was worth a try.

He was one of twenty queries I sent out. He is the only one to respond, so I give him credit, even if the rejection was a form letter. The other queries did not even generate a form letter. They did not generate anything. And they were sent out in OCTOBER. I was simply ignored, like a fly that doesn't buzz. 

The other kind of rejection is self-rejection. My first two novels in the Thomas O'Shea series were published and I am proud of them. The third in the series is completed and in the hands of my publisher with their promise to publish it early this year. In the meantime, I've been working on the fourth novel in the O'Shea series. But I wasn't happy with it. I was forcing it. I was not enjoying writing it. And I had fifteen chapters completed that I did not like. So I "self-rejected" and deleted all but the first chapter after wrestling with various alternative story lines. And got back to work. Today, I finished the new second chapter and I am on my way. It is a relief, believe me.

If you're a writer, you know how one has to develop a thick skin to protect oneself from cold, heartless, form letter rejections. Or no response at all. And you have to be tough with yourself, too. Still, I find encouragement from this great writer.

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address. – Barbara Kingsolver