Perhaps it would help if I shared what I have learned during my rejection years. Hopefully, it will help you progress down the six stages of rejection. I know it would have made my journey less arduous had someone guided me down the rejection path.
Stage One (Euphoria):
The manuscript is now complete and has received rave reviews from family members. Countless hours have been spent sifting through agent listings in the most current Writer’s Market. Web sites have been closely scrutinized and the pros and cons of each agency meticulously logged. Finally, the candidates are narrowed down to ten prestigious agencies. Query letters with sample chapters are sent by registered mail for overnight delivery. While awaiting the expected response, a set of interview questions is compiled.
Stage Two (Denial):
Rejection letters begin to accumulate in the mailbox. This cannot be! Surely there is a mistake. Envelopes must have been inadvertently switched in the mailroom by some incompetent minion on minimum wage. It is only a matter of time before the phone will ring and an apologetic agent will beg for forgiveness. The apology will be magnanimously accepted. Anyone can make an honest mistake.
Stage Three (Bitterness):
The last of the rejection letters have arrived. Most are addressed to “Dear Author.” A few have a name penciled in. Surely the agents must know the rejections letters would be recognized for what they are – impersonal form letters sent to countless authors across the nation. They could have at least spelled the name right. And did they really think Larry was a nickname for Loretta? All that information was available on my website if they had taken the time to research who they were rejecting.
Stage Four (Vengeance):
More queries have been sent, and more rejections have been received. The rejection notices are painstakingly placed in a scrapbook by chronological order. It is only a matter of time before someone discovers the manuscript’s true literary value. Then the agents responsible for the rejection notices will be contacted and their noses ignominiously rubbed into their literary incompetence. The mere thought of this vindication provides a bit of personal satisfaction.
Stage Five (Depression):
The rejection notices continue to accumulate but are now loosely stuffed into the rejection scrapbook. It is obvious the editors and agents are not even offering the proper courtesy of reviewing the proffered material. They have no interest in unpublished authors. Fame and fortune is viewed as a wistful dream. Cold Turkey will never be published, and the world will never discover how the Yoopers repulsed the President’s preemptive strike against Michigan’s Upper Peninsula using the classic technique of shock and Awe. Super Mensa will never make it to bookstore shelves. Will Anastasia Petrova’s preternaturally high I.Q. be any match against an evil illegal-arms dealer’s vast financial empire? Will she ever get her baby back? Despondency settles in, and the word processor is ignored for weeks at a time. Abandoning the writing career is seriously considered.
Stage Six (Acceptance):
Finally there is an epiphany. Fame and fortune is no longer relevant. Query letters are still submitted to agents only because that is what writers do. The rejection notices are perfunctorily logged on spreadsheets to keep track of queried agents – nothing more. The writing process has now become a totally adequate reward. Words are placed on paper. Paragraphs are molded into stories. Literary works, unread except by the closest of friends, begin to accumulate on the bookshelf. There are no further thoughts of forsaking the seductive call of the word processor. Writing has become the reason for living. The companionship the computer will provide in life’s waning years is viewed with anticipation, not regret. For now it is known that old writers never die – their muse just fades away.
As I find myself dipping my toes into the waters of the Sea of Rejection—which are cold, deep, and filled with monsters—my friend Larry posted this to my Facebook. He’s allowed me to repost it here, so that I can come back to it time and time again to remind myself what this really all about. Thank you, Larry!