Rejection

So many rejections. Lord. They wear on a writer. They come in droves, in dribbles, in waves, washing over me. It’s not my kind of story. It’s a tough market. You have lovely language, but no plot. I’m taking on very little literary fiction now. It’s too ambitious. It’s not ambitious enough. I can’t “identify” with any of the characters. There’s too much story. Too many characters. Not enough story. Not enough character.

And worse than the rejection are the agents who never, ever, ever respond to email queries, even when they say they are accepting just such things. We only respond the queries we are interested in, they write. That’s so much crap. How much time does it take to shoot off a quick rejection form email? Seconds? I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that agents are so swamped that they can’t reject people instead of just leaving things hanging in the air. It is, to me, the epitome of unprofessionalism. So, I teach writing. What if I decided to only respond the essays that I was interested in and I never ever told the other students anything concerning their grades? Isn’t it the same thing? Less than a decade ago, if you enclosed a SASE with your query letter, they’d at least send it back with a rejection slip. No mess, no fuss, simple, clear cut. A little cold, usually, because it was a form letter, but way better than not responding at all. Now, since paper copies are becoming less common, suddenly the ability to take that time has vanished? Pffffttttt.

Of course, rejection itself is nothing new. All writers face it. All writers deal with it differently. I don’t take it personally, but after a while, it just flattens the desire to write.

It seems as if my third novel manuscript, The Improbable Colony, is destined to be yet another “practice” novel for me. I just can’t find the right person to represent it and I’m tired of looking. I’m sort of tired of thinking about writing, actually, but I’ve felt that way before and it will most likely pass. I’ve written three novels and two collections of short stories since I was thirty, and most of those manuscripts will remain hidden away. So much time at the keyboard.

What am I doing?

A special thanks to the agent Sally Wofford-Girand, who although she didn’t click with my manuscript, at least wrote back to me in person and actually seemed to have read the book and put some effort into her response. I find that sort of attention to be rare in the industry. She seems like a stand up person.

I told myself that if I couldn’t sell Improbable Colony, I’d give up writing novels and just write some short stories. I may rescind that vow. Or not. I wish I was better at writing plots.

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