So, in the slow death march of clearing the other house so we can put it up for sale, I came across a box of rejections. Why I’ve kept that and moved it from the other house, heaven alone knows. Actually moved it, then added to it.
The rejections in the box range from 16 to 12 years ago, that is from my being rejected more or less everywhere to my being a brand new published writer, fresh as paint, hitting the wall of the stores ordering to the net. (As well as having my first book out a month after 9/11, but that’s something else.)
I was in a melancholy mood as I had the last of the pre-op appointments (so you guys don’t freak, I’ll be running mostly guest posts here and at ATH for a week. I have no idea how long it takes to recover, and I suspect it has to do with what they find when they go in, too, but hopefully it will just be a lot of sleeping and recovering.)
I glanced over the rejections, as I threw them away. And it’s amazing, both the distance and how close it all is.
When did I become a different person and a different writer than that bright and eager woman those many years ago? When did I change, from hopeful to burned out to… calloused would be the best way to put it.
I don’t know. I didn’t notice it. Most of the years were just a lot of work and trying to finish the work between hands at the time, trying to keep my head above water just a little longer.
But here are some things that have changed:
- I had no idea how to approach a publisher. Going cap in hand never gets positive results. You need to be sure of yourself and your work.
- Did I really submit to all those half-penny magazines run by people who even now are stuck at that level? Thank heavens for indie.
- I didn’t understand when I was being told my future society was politically unpalatable and thought it was all craft. (This refers to the fifty or so space opera stories.)
- I still expected the one book that would make me huge (that was not from the rejections but from other materials from the same period.) While this could happen, I’ve come to believe that it’s more important to just concentrate on building a career. If the black swan comes, then great, if it doesn’t I’ll still have a career.
- I’ve forgotten most of the short stories I wrote back then.
- I’ve forgotten most of the magazines that existed back then.
- The snootiness of the rejection was inversely proportional to the payment/size of the magazine.
More importantly, I’ve discovered looking at those rejections that what seemed an endless journey and an immutable barrier had an end and fell down.
That wall of rejections broke with a trickle of acceptances which then, insensibly, became the norm.
Looking back it seems like it was only yesterday I was that writer who kept flinging stories into the void and getting them rejected. The writer of no future.
I packed the brag shelf. All those novels, all those mags with stories of mine. When did it happen? Surely I’m still the same person, at least inside.
And yet it changed.
If you’re beating your head on the rejection wall, or if you’re beating it on the indie low sales wall, be aware it changes.
Keep working. The payoff might not be immediately obvious, but if you write it, they will come.