Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Writing Wednesday: The Sweet Reminders of Rejection

A funny thing happened about two months ago: I hit a complete dead-end in my agency hunt.

It's not that I ran out of steam, or ran out patience.

I ran out of agents.

On the advice of a fellow writer, I kept my search limited to members of AAR (Association of Author Representatives). I looked at this list -- pages and pages and pages of names and contact information -- and thought I was set. I could be searching for an agent well into my second novel, possibly even second child. I searched and researched and sent queries to every agent who seemed to represent my type of book -- and a few who probably didn't (fun side story: I've, on more than one occasion, accidentally sent out queries to cookbook agencies, children's lit agencies, and/or academic textbook agencies).

I continued this way for over 6 months. I was downright feverish in constantly editing my query, my synopsis, my sample chapter. Some days I'd submit to as many as 10 agencies. In a better economy, this would probably have been labeled as reckless, if not downright stupid. But given the current state of publishing, my spray-and-pray method was really all I had.

And then … I hit the end. I submitted to as many agents as I possibly could. Something to the tune of 100+ agencies. I had even submitted to additional agents within one agency after the first agent passed. I had a few nibbles: a partial manuscript here, a full manuscript there, but nothing ever fleshed out.

And I was left thinking: okay, wtf do I do now?

Part of me geared up for part 2 of my publishing endeavor. Another part of me wanted to take a nap on the nice new couch my husband and I purchased.

Take a gander as to which part won.

Even though I'm on a bit of a publishing hiatus, every week or so, I get a rejection email back from an agent I queried upwards of 4 months ago. Once upon a time, rejection emails were a punch to a gut. I'd see the "Re: Query" in my inbox and get all excited, like a little child hearing puppy barks from downstairs on Christmas morning. I'd click on the email only to find out that the puppy barks were actually just the washing machine acting up and my main Christmas present was a reminder to get a job.

But now? They're just what I need to keep chugging away. A brief reminder that, even though the ball's not in my court (if only because I chucked it to the other side and scream, "I hate your stupid game! I'm telling Mom!"), the journey is not even close to being complete. I'm still in the queue for many agencies. My name is still out there, even if it is being systematically ignored. And even if it continues to be ignored, so what? I have back-up plans to my back-up plans. And this is all for Manuscript #1 -- who knows what will happen when I finally finish it's bastard little brother, Manuscript #2. I've got enough plans to keep me happy and delusional well into my 30s. And by then, I'll be so weighed down with kids and a mortgage that I won't even notice that my writing is gathering dust.

And even though I'm taking a break and focusing more on crafts and reading and somehow surviving as a teacher in New Hampshire, this story is not nearly over. And hopefully, when I resume my hunt again, I'll come up with snazzier names for my books outside of Manuscript 1 and 2 (although that does have a nice ring to it).


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