This week I hit another milestone in my writing journey – my first heartbreak. As a new picture book writer I was THRILLED when an agent from a dream agency responded to my query the next day with a request for additional materials. But for the past two weeks, I have LITERALLY been sitting on my hands, in nervous anticipation of her response – it came yesterday. My heart sank as I read the first line and realized she had decided to pass. I was fully aware of this possibility but not sure I was fully prepared for how personal the rejection felt. Call it naive, but knowing she was interested enough in my initial manuscript to ask for more gave me a false expectation that she’d provide a concrete reason if she passed…fun story but no market…requires character development…rhyming meter off….something…anything.
Naturally, I needed to vent to anyone and EVERYONE who would listen and understand so I turned to the writing community which has been SO amazing and supportive this past few months by way of Sub It Club. This amazing group of published and unpublished writers was the first writing group I joined and I truly cannot thank them enough for how eager they’ve been to help and listen to my newbie rants. With that in mind, I quickly posted a message to the group:
“Received a vague rejection from an agent who requested additional manuscripts. I was expecting to receive specific feedback so a little disappointing 😔 Has anyone had a similar experience after a request?”
Responses came rapid fire…”No feedback, even after coming close to being signed”…”Non-specific feedback is more the norm than the exception”…”Waited 15 weeks after a full request then got a pass with zero feedback”…all super depressing but at least I was not alone – and it wasn’t personal. Amidst all the doom and gloom, one of the group members, Kirsten Williams Larson, posted a blog link that instantly put my rejection wallows into perspective – Rejection Bingo!
As a published author, Kirsten had been writing longer than me, experienced more highs and lows, more hopes and rejections and had come up with a way to persevere in spite of everything. Rather than drowning in self pity with each hope that came and went, she put words into action, making a game out of collecting her rejection stripes, each one a badge of honor on her bingo card and a step closer to her end goal of securing representation for her book.
Tonight, as I filled in my rejection bingo card I felt more like a winner than a failure! At this point I’ve received 4 responses to the 10 initial queries I sent, all passes, all different reasons. I am actually really excited now to fill my card, collecting my rejection stripes as I continue my journey to publication. Like many writers before me who’ve played and won, each of my rejections is a mark, a sign of evolution, continued growth and a test of just how far I’ll persist in pursuit of my goals! Winning isn’t always about getting the answer you want, sometimes winning is in reading between the lines. As Kirsten optimistically reminded me “You learned something really valuable. Your first manuscript is gold, but you might want to review and revise your follow up manuscripts. That’s a lot of good information.”
And so, here I am, revising…<3 Thank you Kirsten!!