Thomas Edison is credited with the quote "I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." For Thomas Edison, it was the lightbulb and it took him those 10,000 "ways that won't work" to finally get it right.
For me, it is writing. I am searching for the perfect agent (or, I suppose, any agent that will take me!) and so far, I have found 32 that won't work.
On the 27th of September, I received a partial manuscript request from an agent who I was particularly interested in. Unlike most of my top ten agents most of whom had clients with books, I absolutely adored, this agent simply seemed to have a wishlist that matched my book perfectly. I wanted to work with her because I felt she could champion my book.
Unfortunately, she didn't feel the same.
Yesterday, the 22nd of August, I received an email telling me she would not be requesting any more of the manuscript as she did not feel it was the best fit for her.
I was disappointed. In fact, I was crushed.
This was the first manuscript request I had received and, though I started querying with a long list of agents in mind, that list has quickly dwindled. The rejection of agent after agent has forced me to go back to the drawing board looking for more agents to query.
You may recall a post I wrote a while back before the revision of The Criminal. The post. (which can be found here) describes my excitement when receiving a rejection letter for the first time.
When I wrote that post, I was writing from a very different point of view. I had written no queries before. I had barely begun the process of researching publishing and had little idea of what I was doing. And my excitement largely revolved around the fact that I now knew that my queries were getting to where they needed to be.
But now I want to come at you with a different point of view and a different message.
It is ok to feel disappointed when you are rejected.
It is ok to feel down when the road seems long.
It is ok to want to quit.
Don't quit. Don't give up that dream of publishing that stunning book and leave it on the shelf gathering dust. Don't leave yourself in that place of disappointment. Don't let yourself lose hope.
I feel disappointed that I have received 32 rejections. I feel disappointed that my list of agents to query is dwindling and I will have to go back to the drawing board to look for more. I am frustrated by the emails that say "it's not right for me" and "keep querying." I want to do something, to take action, to be moving forward in this process but all I can do is sit still and wait.
It makes me want to give up hope...
But I won't.
Not just because I know I have a gift. Not just because I am passionate about my characters and their story and want to share it with the world. Not just because I've had people speak into my life, telling me I was made to be a writer.
But also because of Kathryn Stockett (author of The Help) who received 60 rejection letters before her agent took her on, made her a bestseller for 100+ weeks, and got her book turned into a movie.
Because C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia was rejected for years before it was published, translated into 47 different languages, and sold to hundreds of millions of readers.
Because Nicholas Spark's The Notebook was rejected by 24 agencies before the book went on to sell 100 million copies and it (as well as 11 other books by Sparks) was turned into an incredibly popular movie.
Because Jack London (author of The Call of the Wind) kept all of his 600 rejection letters before he was published and sold a million copies.
There are many stories of authors, actors, artists, and others who have tried, and failed, and tried again. Those who give up too early are the ones who do not make it. It is those who are willing to drag themselves through the disappointment of finding all the ways it "won't work" so that they can enjoy the pleasure of finding the way it will work that make it in the end.
Stockett noted that if she had given up on the 10th, 20th, 30th, or 40th rejection, she never would have made it to the one agent who would take her on. One never knows how many rejections it will take to get to the agent who will say yes. How many rejections can you take? Are you willing to keep going? How committed are you to your book?
Personally, I will do whatever it takes. Whether that's 32 rejections or 32,000!