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What to Expect When You’re Rejected

September 17, 2008
Rejection letters put to better use.

Rejection letters put to good use.

First off, a big thank you to whomever quoted me on the Television Without Pity forums, bringing a lot of traffic to the blog. It would be extremely pathetic to say that discovering it was one of the high points of my life, so I won’t. But thank you, and to all of you who followed the link – look for more television reviews in the future, if that’s the sort of thing that floats your kayak.

In fact, here’s one now:

I’ve been rather less than impressed with Fringe. I’m a big fan of Alias, and about as devoted a Lostie as you’ll find outside of convention centers and tropical islands. So J.J. Abrams has Whedon-Fuller status – I’ll give any show a try just because it’s got his name stamped on it.

The problem is predictability. Not the good kind of predictability either, where I know something’s coming because that’s what has to happen, but just because it’s lacking in originality.  The writing is banal; Walter’s lines, while humorous, are forced eccentricity.  He’s got nothing on Sophia Petrillo when it comes to frankness.

My mother’s severely put out by John Noble’s acting (and by the end of last night’s episode, he was wearing on me too). I spent a lot of the episode analyzing Anna Torv’s facial structure rather than paying attention to the story – not that the story was all that hard to follow. Anna Torv’s not a terrible actress, but she’s no Jennifer Garner or Evangeline Lilly. Maybe J.J. should stick with brunettes.

Both my mother and I agreed that Joshua Jackson was the best of the lot. For those Pacey fans, sorry, but he’ll always be Charlie Conway, Mighty Duck, to me. If Fringe tanks, maybe he’ll find his way onto another show.


If I’d retained anything from my high school ‘physics for dummies’ class, I might be able to understand how it’s possible to feel so old and so young at the same time. I think it has something to do with relativity. Einstein’s probably laughing at me from beyond the grave.

Here’s something no book, no teacher can prepare you for: when agent rejections get personal. Not personal as in the agent starts disparaging your taste in clothing or comes to your house seeking revenge for that incident with the super collider, but specific. That’s supposed to be a good sign, right? Well, it is, but what no one ever seems to mention is that the first time you get a rejection more substantial than a signature on a form letter, it’s both exhilarating and nauseating, like someone shoved a squirrel into your stomach that just keeps gnawing and gnawing at your intestines until you decide that the best option is to spare the world an obviously flawed manuscript.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating. But not much.

As a writer, you’re trained to anticipate rejection. It comes at you from all directions. Everyone hears the stories about how now-famous authors couldn’t get their feet in the door. So when ‘no’ after ‘no’ arrives, you shrug it off and say, hey, it’s part of the process. And because they reject you without explanation, you can comfort yourself by saying they just didn’t get it.

But then someone actually shows interest. And the lesson that’s been beaten into your head (it’s not that easy, you’ll get hundreds of rejections) just evaporates because someone is interested. And when the ‘no’ finally comes, accompanied this time by actual reasons, it’s a lot harder to protect yourself; you’ve made yourself vulnerable. There’s a belief that because this person actually wanted to see the complete manuscript, there’s no possible way you could be rejected. This person’s read all the good parts; how could she have said nyet?

The easiest answer is that it’s just not ready yet. Not bad, it wouldn’t make it that far if it was bad, but just not ready. And that’s fine, I’ll be the first to admit that my YA novel has issues – trouble is, I am completely incapable of seeing them myself at this point. My boss is a little busy with his own book, but he’s promised to take a look at it when he’s free. It’ll probably be painful, he’s not going to hold back in any way, but I can only benefit.

Truth is, while it’s great to have people read your story (and even better if they enjoy it), it doesn’t serve you if it’s not a fellow writer who can look at it on a craft level, a structural level. If you don’t have someone like that in your life, find one. It’s invaluable.

I’m thinking of starting a writers group. It would be nice to meet new people, fellow writers, and have a group whose soul purpose is to obey my every whim – I mean… no, that’s pretty much what I mean.

You know what never fails to lift me out of a bad mood?  Listening to David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries on audio book.  


Quote of the Day:

In the case of “Fringe” its creators say they have figured out a finale — naturally, they declined to describe it — that could be deployed at any point in the series. “If we’re canceled at Episode 13,” Mr. Orci said, “we’ll tell you at Episode 13, and if we go on, you could literally find this out in seven years.” – Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times

Link of the Day: How to Start and Manage a Writing Group

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