What do you do when you fall off a horse? Get back on, of course. Well, you could run away and hide, lick your wounds, pretend you didn’t really want to ride anyway and try to find another interest you love with the same passion. If you take the second option, chances are you’ll spend a lot of time thinking about riding and missing the sense of escape you experience when you and the horse are working together, cantering around without a care in the world or walking quietly along a trail. You’ll pretend it doesn’t bother you but that feeling niggling away deep inside you won’t go away.
It’s the same with writing and rejection. You can decide you never really wanted to write anyway and buy a gym membership or scrub the floors until you could eat off them or spend more time lunching with friends and being a “normal” human being. But if writing is something you do because you love it with a passion, because it gives you the same sense of freedom that riding a horse can give you (or sailing, running, whatever else you love to do) then you’ll give yourself a few hours to wallow and get another submission right back out there.
As you may have gathered, yesterday I received a rejection. It was from an agent, by email, and as always, it stung. It’s not the first rejection – I’ve had quite a few others for poems, short stories and a few from agents I’ve sent my manuscript to well before I should have. But this was the first one I’ve had with what I consider to be the final revision of my novel. A well published writer once told me that rejection is good for you because it makes you work harder to improve your writing. I replayed his words last night, every time the image of that “thanks but no, thanks” email popped onto the screen in my head. And I remembered that Rebecca James was rejected by seventy-nine agents before one took her on and managed to sign her up for over a million dollars worth of contracts. So when it comes to rejection I still have a long way to go.
The other thing I did last night was gather up my things and head off to teach my weekly writing class. Chatting with them about poetry, listening to their new scenes and seeing the way writing has given them a common sense of purpose and connection reminded me of what it’s all about. We write because we love to write. If we happen to get published somewhere along the way that’s a bonus. But it’s not everything. And it’s not the most important, as I’ve said in earlier posts.
So, today I’ll be sending off another submission to an agent and investigating other options. And continuing to work on improving my novel. There’s nothing to do other than to pick up the pen and keep writing.
Because that’s what we love to do – with a passion.