Mourning 88,000 Words
I just had a book rejected today.
Not a short story. A book. Eight-eight thousand words worth of book. My agent (who does a fantastic job and who I enjoy working with) tried and tried, but no takers.
A whole book, going nowhere (I must add the optimistic “for now”). It’s not the first time.
Right after I finished FantsticLand and Pack, my two published novels, I submitted a manuscript to my agent that wasn’t a horror book. It was something different and fun, something I really liked (and still like), but his response was a simple, firm, “not this one”. It was a hard lesson but an important one.
“I can’t sell this from you”. Got it. Moving on.
A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post about how I wrote a book in 45 days. That was this book that just got rejected. I got it down and improved it, got some gutting feedback from my beta readers, pushed it as far as I thought it could go and submitted it.
A quick aside – rejection comes in many forms in publishing but I really do appreciate those who do it kindly. If I could share a rejection letter and have you trust me that it was authentic:
“I think Mike is an undeniably talented writer—again, his characters are very well fleshed out and realistic, which is no small feat!—however, I didn’t feel as strongly engaged by the overall voice of the piece as I’d wanted to be, which made it difficult for me to fully immerse myself in the story.”
That’s some quality rejection, and I do appreciate it. I like the kindness inherent in the rejection But it’s still rejection.
In the past few years I’ve counseled probably 50 people who want to write books. I tell them the query process by which you secure an agent, is the worst because you get ignored and rejected and ignored and then ignored and rejected and ignored some more. Tenacity can’t just be your friend, I tell people. You have to be fucking.
So, to stop now would be the height of hypocrisy, wouldn’t it? Or would continuing be the height of stupidity. Hard to tell sometimes.
It sucks that the novel I wrote won’t be my “third” book. Truth be told if the people who read it were tepid about it, how do you think readers would react. Didn’t a wise man once say “I’ve been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage”? I know that feeling and am glad to be spared from it.
But, truthfully, I mourn the work. I thought about this novel and obsessed over it and got out of bed in the middle of the night to write down ideas and felt really good about myself when I finished it. I had pieces in this novel that are as good as anything I’d ever written. I will mourn that.
But I’m not going to stop. Even if I never publish another book I have proven to myself that I’m a writer. I’ve got 6 ideas for books in the early stages. I’ve got a book half done that takes us back to the effects of Hurricane Sadie. I like writing. It’s brought me in contact with amazing people and continues to do so. So I’m not stopping. Not now. Probably not for a while.
But this sucks.
Tomorrow I will shake it off and keep writing but I’m sitting with it tonight. Thanks for sitting with me.