A friend was in town last week very briefly, and she and I met to catch up. One of the topics discussed was this year’s conventions, and which of the crop we might attend.
I mentioned that I’d been entertaining the notion of being on a panel. It might be fun; it might give me something new to plan and focus on; it might be a good way to meet people and expand my circle.
Question was: what was I qualified to talk about?
I don’t have a book to sell, I don’t have a popular platform, I’m still very obviously in the early years of my writing career. Why would anyone take me seriously? I wouldn’t. But I kept thinking about it, and eventually I realized I am an expert in one area:
One thing I hear from other writers (especially when I mention the rejection challenge) is how hard they find receiving even a single rejection, let alone several a day/week/month. And I used to be like that too, but now… now I’m not. I got seven rejections over a week while on vacation, and yeah, it sucked, but on Monday I was back in my chair, doin’ the work and sending out subs as usual (more on that below).
Detachment, perspective, rewording the problem to better find a solution… those are skills I taught myself. Maybe I can teach other people.
- How to analyse form rejections for additional information
- How to triangulate personal rejections into useful critiques
- Learning to turn the problem around into something you can control
- Knowing when to take time for yourself to process and when to reward yourself for hard work even if it’s not showing achievable results
That’s just off the top of my head! And there doesn’t need to be an exhaustive list–I’m not proposing a TEDX Talk. There would be other people on the panel with relevant experience. (Maybe an editor, to talk about the other side of the table.) But it’s a start, and I know that there are people who want to learn, who need to learn, how to take a single rejection from a day-ending tragedy down to stubbed-toe levels of pain.
Rejection tallies remain very private among writers; we all want to bitch at the bar, sure, but very few want to be the one to admit they’re racking up the rejections in triple digits after a year. All that secrecy just feeds social media’s image crafting problem; all that newbies see is the success stories, and when the next rejection lands in their inbox it feels personal, even when it isn’t. That needs to change. Maybe I can do my part to shift the conversation.
So that’s something to think about.
You can’t get rejections without submissions, and on Monday–after the seventh rejection in a week, and a particularly difficult one to accept–I went to the coworking space as usual. It hurt, gave me doubts, but I went on anyway, and in a burst of perhaps misplaced anger I sent out not the two queries that I needed for my week’s quota, but four and hit 50 queries for Blackout Odyssey a week early.
So that queryometer is filled. Took me four full months.
150th query since January 2018. Got four full & partial requests out of it; that’s enough encouragement to keep me going. Next Monday I will be back in my chair, sending out queries to fill the next 50 boxes. So it goes. Fingers crossed the entire time.
Can’t score a goal if I don’t take the shot.
The thing is, on that hypothetical panel, nothing I can tell anyone will make submitting/querying any easier; it’s hard. It’s hard work. There is no way to hit the target the first time besides luck–besides a combination of being in the right place and the right time and knowing the right people. So still a while to go before this story about rejections gets anything even approaching an ending, happy or otherwise. Sometimes things don’t work out, no matter how much effort we give it and I still don’t know whether this novellin’ thing will succeed for me, or not.
Still better than working in advertising, though.