The Risk of Rejection

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Before school was out in June, I sent off pages from my revised manuscript to a literary agency I’d convinced myself would be a very good fit for me. The agency works with authors whose books I’ve read and the agents, by way of their biographies, appeared to be the sorts of folks with whom I’d mesh well.

The weeks of summer ticked by with no word from this agency. Last week with my children back in school, I reached out and asked about the status of the pages they had–it was an optimistic poke that I hoped would lead to a “we have read your pages, and we’d like to read the entire story.”

Their response was not that. Instead it was a rejection, and as polite and kind as it was, it was still a “no.”

I haven’t yet replied to the agency, though I should–and I will. What I did in the immediate wake of the rejection was send out another query to a different literary agency.

Essentially, I told myself that there was no benefit to getting torn up about the rejection. You can please some of the people some of the time. This was either not the right person or the right time. So I’m trying a different “person,” i.e., literary agency, at a different time.

Fast forward to a day later when I had the chance to interact briefly with a parent of a soccer-playing child waiting to see his son play on the field adjacent to where my soccer-playing son was playing. This man mentions to me how he has enjoyed reading this blog and asked about how my writing was going.

I thank him for reading, wonder (though don’t ask) what he has enjoyed about the blog, and avoid mentioning the recent, long-waited-for rejection. He says some things which lead me to ask whether he, too, is a writer.

He is. And like me, he is sitting on a lot of material. He didn’t seem motivated to get published or even to pursue writing contests. He made it sound like his interest was in the writing itself (a sign that I would suggest indicates authentic writing) and maybe in sharing his words, which incidentally he puts out in the form of poems.

Before we went to two separate sidelines to root on our tiny little athletes, I encouraged him to start up a blog and put his work out there. I explained he could do it for free, and he could do it anonymously.

A hour and fifteen minutes later, as my family left to head to the next Saturday soccer game, this man came up to me in the parking lot, handed me his phone, and I read one of his poems.

It was lovely.

I again told him that he should share his words, if only to encourage other creative types to share their creative energies with the world. I opined that you never know whose life you might change, even in the most infinitesimal way, with an idea, an image, a picture, a turn of phrase. That idea alone should be enough to motivate any creative sort to take the risk of rejection and ask, “What do you think of my work?”

18 thoughts on “The Risk of Rejection

  1. What a great experience this must have been. Sharing what we do, encouraging someone to open up and explore what they have inside…a gift from one to another. Really nice to read this; all of it! On rejection – keep trying, I know you will.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that the risk of putting your work out there-either for the first time on a blog, or again and again to an agency or publisher-is well worth the risk of rejection. I’ve made wonderful writing friends from the blog, and learn just a little bit more with every rejection. You can’t go forward without stepping out there. Glad you’re persevering.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s scary putting yourself out there, so well done! I’m up to 5 rejections. Each one is like a punch to the gut, but that’s good, if it didn’t hurt it would mean I didn’t care. It got much easier when I realised that I lose absolutely nothing from a rejection.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gosh, I was rejected a number of times and given false promises (even worse). There was a nice silver lining for you, in meeting the poet. Just keep blogging away and perhaps consider self-publishing on Kindle, as I did. I have good reviews but few sales.

    Liked by 1 person

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