Saturday, February 23, 2008

Turning My Back On Writing

I realize that writers, like baseball managers, live constantly with the shadow of rejection hovering over them. Managers are hired to be fired, and writers write to be rejected. But sometimes you win the World Series. And sometimes you get the call, the email, the letter that tells you someone likes your work and wants to see it in print.

That has happened to me once--with the publication of my book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse. Oh, there have been articles accepted for publication, appearing in some pretty prestigious periodicals. But I'm still waiting for a publisher to read through one of the four novels I've completed and offer me what the Muppet Movie calls "the standard rich and famous contract." It hasn't happened yet, and it didn't happen yesterday when my agent called.

My first novel was essentially written "to order," and the editor, after one revision, took it to the Pub Board, where it died an ignominious death. Then another editor at a different publishing house really liked my first and second novels. He had me work with an independent editor on both of them, offering assurances (to the book doctor, not to me) that a multi-book contract was on the horizon. Then came the polite and appropriately sympathetic email: just not quite good enough. Most recently, I wrote another "to order" novel in a different genre. My agent agreed that it was excellent work. She sent it to the publisher of the editor who'd requested it, where a different editor somehow got hold of it and passed on it. Bummer.

If you want to be reminded that rejection goes with the territory, read a classic post by editor Nick Harrison at the Charis Connection. Nick shares his reaction to getting a work of his, one he thought was his best to date, rejected by a publisher who'd done two other books of his. That really struck a chord with me. Nick, you may have not only kept me from slashing my wrists, you probably are going to drive me back to the computer to keep writing.

My wife works SuDoKu to keep her mind sharp. Maybe, in addition to being a response to the call I still feel, writing can help me keep my mind sharp. I'm going to take a few days off to think about it, but I suspect that I'll be back at the keyboard soon. Stay tuned for further details. Meanwhile, feel free to share your rejection stories in the comments section.

6 comments:

Elaine Williams said...

Yes, rejection is a normal part of writing life. I've been in this writing life also, a long time. What I've decided is I will write what I want to write and it'll end up where it's supposed to be. elaine

One More Writer said...

The writing business is such a roller coaster ride--up one the highest hill one minute then plunging to the earth when you least expect it. I'm so sorry. But don't you dare quit! One of the greatest encouragements we writers have is each other's perseverance in the face of rejection. Give yourself time to grieve it, then press on, my friend!

Nicole said...

Really and truly, Richard? "Not quite good enough." That's one person's opinion. Sounds like you did all that was asked of you. Therefore, "not quite good enough" translates to "not what I thought I wanted".

"I've decided I will write what I want to write and it'll end up where it's supposed to be." Truth from Elaine.

Write on, Richard. Do it the way the Lord wants--that's a win-win.

Rachelle said...

I don't like rejection at all, I have to admit. And now I get to field rejections for my clients' work. I hate it. Maybe it's not as painful because it's not MY blood, sweat and tears that went into each manuscript. But my whole heart is in it, for my clients. It's hard.

Just remember that those people who are rejecting you... they all have to experience rejection themselves. Agents get rejections from editors. The editors have to deal with rejections from their pub committee. It's a tough business all the way around.

Why do we do this again?

Oh yeah, I remember. Because we love it. (Or we're natural born masochists, one or the other. Just got another rejection so I can't decide right now.)

Richard Mabry said...

Elaine, D'Ann, Nicole, Rachelle (and the others who have sent me private emails)--Thanks for your encouraging words.
As you'll be able to see from my next post, I'm back at my desk and writing again. It must be the masochist in me.

Elaine Williams said...

Yes, rejection is a normal part of writing life. I've been in this writing life also, a long time. What I've decided is I will write what I want to write and it'll end up where it's supposed to be. elaine