Long time readers of this humble blog know that once upon a time I had a great idea for a young adult historical novel that was going to require a substantial amount of research. Not wanting to wait to begin writing something and thus practice my craft I began writing what would become known as The Practice Novel while I worked on the research for the other. It turned out that writing TPN was great fun. I quickly finished the first draft and started working on the rewrites, because after all, this was to be a Learning Experience. Many rewrites later the editing began. When I finally had a finished, polished manuscript the next obvious lesson for me would the query process. As I shared in recent posts, I learned how to write the dreaded synopsis and query letter, picked three publishers to send this package off to, and with shaking hand pressed the SEND button. I had almost accomplished the full Learning Experience. Only one experience was left to be checked off the list, and I was looking forward to it: the rejection letter. I had queried with the goal being a nice form rejection letter. Then I could consider myself a real writer. But the great writing gods had different plans, and their sense of humor is quite twisted.
Four days after I hit that send button I received a request for a partial. Surprised and delighted I sent it off, knowing that the rejection was that much closer. How thrilling. I wouldn’t allow myself to get too excited about it because after all this was all being done in the name of education. My education as a writer. Just another step along the way. When the kind editor emailed me a week later to tell me she had enjoyed the first 50 pages and asked for the full manuscript I had a significantly harder time staying in my Happy Place of ‘this is all nothing more than a learning experience.’ I foolishly allowed myself to begin thinking that maybe, just maybe, The Practice Novel had a chance.
Of course the inevitable rejection arrived less than two weeks later. However, it wasn’t a form rejection, but a nice, long email explaining exactly where I had gone wrong. I learned a lot from that email, and I will treasure it always. Sure it smarted a bit for a day or two. Yes, I Googled ‘famous rejection letters’ and found great solace in reading rejections of what are now considered classics. (And you really have to feel awful for those twelve publishers who turned down Harry Potter.) But it is pretty exciting to be in such great company!
I’ve been rejected! I’m a writer!