Rejection vs Rewards
Oh the rejection! It comes in so many ways.
First it was my creative writing class, when hastily-written assignments were returned bleeding red ink for poorly constructed sentences, or incomplete ideas.
After college, I dabbled with short stories and poems, but by then, I was writing with much reflection and contemplation. I crafted each sentence with glowing prose, fancy alliteration and thought-provoking metaphors that had me gasping with awe.
For validation, I took these finely-crafted pieces to a critique group, where members took turns cutting my golden words to shreds. I remember feeling like I'd been flayed by jackals. How could those people not find my every word inspiring? Didn't they understand the time and thought I'd devoted? Of course, the deepest wound of all was the realization that maybe they were right, my writing sucked.
Once I had indulged my pride for a couple days, I'd think back on comments that were made. Was my character one-dimensional? Did the dialogue drag? With my vanity out of the way, I was able to create stories that not only entertained my critique group, but drew their praise.
I decided I was ready for the big time: a novel. The professionals tell us to rewrite and rewrite until we've got that book perfected before sending out the first query letter. And that's what I did. Is it any wonder then, that being told 'no' is so hurtful after all that work?
And those form letters! Some had been copied so many times the type was faded and the text crooked on the page. The salutation was an impersonal 'Dear sir or madam', or a genderless 'Dear author". I was thrilled when an agent actually used my name. Sometimes they don't even waste a whole sheet of paper, it's just a slip stapled to your query letter.
On a few occasions, I was rewarded with a personalized letter that not only called me by name but mentioned the title of my book in the text. And the biggest reward of all? I got my agent through a rejection letter. She had so many positive things to say about my book before she ultimately turned me down, that I begged for the chance to rewrite the book (again).
Through the years, I've thought about quitting. I know there were many times when my husband wished I would; so did my kids. My friends were sure I was wasting my time, acquaintances raised an eyebrow when I said I was a writer, yet I hadn't been published.
Well now, I do have a published book. And the rewards are quite fulfilling. Getting that first copy in the mail and brushing a hand over the cover is like caressing a newborn. Calling my mom and explaining how to get on Amazon so she can see the book online? Priceless!
But the biggest reward of all? Knowing my two sons have seen how my hard work and persistence have paid off. We tell our children they can do anything they want; they just have to keep at it. In my case, I don't think my kids really believed it until they held my book in their hands. Now they understand. Never give up.
~ M.R. Cornelius