POSTED: APRIL 1, 2023
I am no stranger to rejection. I experienced it quite a bit in my youth in particular. I am referring here to the classic garden variety of rejection of course – Don’t come near my end of the bar, you creep!
It hurts, but its superficial, and a learning experience.
Some people embrace it and it makes them learn, makes them stronger and better. I have a friend who is in business and who loves to rant on about the joys of failure as a learning tool. Well some of us like the equation to not all be equal in the successes and failures but more like: WIN,WIN, WIN, loss, WIN, WIN, WIN. I have known some people who just trick themselves into thinking the loss or rejection is not a loss at all but merely a deferred acceptance or win. I don’t have that skill.
The reason this topic has come up is because I am about to enter another season or waves of rejection. This stems from my finishing my manuscript some time ago and then submitting it to agents. The protocol is to submit it and then wait politely for six to twelve weeks and if you have not heard from them over that time to understand that they don’t have an interest. No letter thanking you for your nice submission but declining the opportunity. No, just an absence of a response is the big indicator that you should try with someone else. The other big kicker here is that the convention is to only submit to one at a time. It doesn’t take a math wiz to realize that with a timeline of months between submissions you can spend years being passively rejected without one clear formal rejection.
Now psychologically I guess not being formally rejected may allow you to believe that the manuscript was delivered to the wrong person, or fell behind a cabinet or was lost by the postal service, but for some of us it is quite a disconcerting process. It is as if we have proposed marriage to someone only to have the response – I’ll get back to you on that, and if you haven’t heard from me in the next few months, propose to someone else, but don’t you dare think about proposing to someone else until the few months has passed. WTF?
Am I longing for active rejection vs. this passive rejection? Well, not exactly, but some clarity would be nice. With that said I am sufficiently fragile that I don’t know if I can handle a ruthlessly honest response. There are only two of us on this isolated, desert island, with all variety of perils, and frankly I wish you would leave.
So when I did all that submitting to potential agents for my manuscript over a sizeable period of time, I also did not go back to the manuscript to polish it further. But there was a little burr irritating me on a key aspect of it and as time passed, I came to realize that perhaps the manuscripts rejection or lack of acceptance was a good thing in that I could make it better before submitting to a new set of rejection suitors.
In January I dove back into my manuscript with a renewed vigor as I had figured out the problem. I pulled out the burr that had been irritating the beast and rewrote key elements and can now say that I am truly proud of the outcome. The earlier version was not worthy of acceptance. This version is.
But time is a nasty mistress. As you age some rejections or failures are just not bumps in the road, or learning experiences, but indications that you may never accomplish what you are trying to achieve. So I am taking my new manuscript and sending it out to agents one at a time but with a three or four week gap between submissions. In a world that is so screwed up, I think this bit of acceleration of the waiting process between submissions is not the biggest crime of the century.
So here I am ready run the submission gauntlet again, wiser and better equipped. Stay tuned.