When Rejection's a Favor
I know what it is to beat one's head against the brick wall of rejection, to turn every stone, cross every T, and [insert additional motheaten cliche here].
I remember well the intense frustration of "almost," when you feel yourself teetering on the verge of publication. When time after time, at that final moment, the prize is snatched from your grasp. When, looking around you, you see others, perhaps those who haven't worked so long or hard or don't seem to have much in the way of talent, achieve what you've worked for so diligently.
Stinks, doesn't it? But the truth is, in a lot of cases, you may look back to discover that rejection was a favor. Either you weren't ready or the writing wasn't. The project offered was one that couldn't possibly commercially succeed or would end up in a niche so narrow, your career as a published author would be brief, stunted, and steeped in bitterness. From the vantage of perspective, the seasoned author will recognize what experienced agents and editors first noticed - and what the novice lacked the objectivity and marketing-savvy to see.
Some manuscripts simply should never be published, and as heartbreaking as that fact is, it doesn't mean they should not have been written. Because with every story completed, the dedicated writer grows in skill until, when her "market sense" evolves to the right degree and the right idea comes up, she'll be ready for it.
More than likely, this will never happen if the writer stubbornly clings to ideas such as "these agents know nothing," "only people with connections can get published," or "if they don't know good art when they see it, I'll publish this myself. And show them!"
I submit to you that if you're winning or placing in contests or getting a lot of bites (including full reads) on your work by industry professionals, you most likely have the talent needed to become a published author. What you may not have is the right idea, the most polished, commercially viable product, or the right timing to make you stand out in an incredibly competitive field.
So my question is, are you going to be one of those who gives up, allowing your dream to fall by the wayside? Are you going to try to second guess the market with a short-cut, such as a vanity press (in all its insidious and tempting guises)? Or will you be among the few who put in the years, study, and sweat equity needed to pursue a quest that offers no one guarantees?
Are you going to be among those who looks back with relief on your early rejections and feels grateful that those developmental manuscripts weren't included in your body of work?
Question for the day: Do you have an "under-the-bed" manuscript you're now glad wasn't published? What did you learn from the experience of writing and submitting it?