Thoughts After a Rejection: On Pain
Here's the thing about rejections: they suck.
They suck when you've been rejected for an article or book dozens of times, and they suck when it's the first one. Each subsequent one stings as fresh as if it were the first.
Here's the other thing about rejections: you get a lot of them as a writer.
And the final thing about rejections: knowing that they're going to hurt, and knowing that they're as prevalent as they are, doesn't change the intensity with which the blows land.
I recently got my first rejection on a partial request, which means that an agent read my query letter and decided they wanted to read more. It means that I was one step closer to an agent offering representation, which would mean being one step closer to a book deal, one step closer to seeing my lifelong dream of being a published author actually realized.
From one second to the next, I went from being three steps ahead on my journey to five steps behind, back at the starting line, breathless and aching and feeling like I'd just taken a literal beating.
It hurts in your heart, rejection does. It doesn't matter that I believe in my writing. It doesn't matter that I have less than no desire to give up on this dream.
All that matters is that someone didn't like my writing enough to even want to finish the book, much less work with me on it.
All that matters is that I wasn't good enough.
Oh, I know that's not true. I know the business is subjective, and it's very likely the agent liked my writing and if they saw my book on a shelf they'd buy it, but they knew they didn't want to pour hours of effort into it.
And I know that that's okay, too. I know that it's impossible to write a story that everyone will fall in love with. I know all of this.
But it still hurts. It stings like salty ocean water slapping an open cut. It stings like lemon juice squeezed over a bared eyeball. It stings like a murder hornet (I'm guessing; I have, thankfully, never been stung by one of those beasts).
I'm going to keep trying. I've already sent out more queries to replace this one. And I'm not writing this to complain or berate the agent; more so because, well...it hurts, and sometimes talking about it to others is the only way to make the pain vanish for a second.
Sometimes knowing that someone else is in the same boat makes it easier to move on, to try again, to develop a somewhat thicker skin for the next rejection.