After not making through to the third round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, my mind naturally turned towards rejections. After all, it’s probably the only thing I can talk about in regards to writing without sounding too much like an ignorant amateur*.
Psychologically, of course, they make me somewhat unhappy. I’ve put all this work creating something and another person doesn’t want it. Although the story itself isn’t personal, per se, putting in the work is an intensely personal endeavor. It’s lonely and egocentric in a way that, say, devising a set of scientific experiments isn’t. But to the agent, editor, or reader, it’s nothing personal. They’ve never heard of the author before and don’t particularly care. That story that the author has slaved over is but a collection of words. And if that particular collection doesn’t look pleasing to another person, then why bother acquiring it?
There is the strong possibility that my writing just isn’t very good. I’ve been submitting things for over a decade now and maybe yet another decade of scribbling won’t improve matters. I know I’m no literary genius. And I’m pretty sure I lack the abundance of natural talent possessed by other writers who have been doing this since they were three. Bluntly put, I’m not an optimistic person, and there are a fair number of times, this included, when I think that it’s all pointless and compulsive persistence. Yes, that’s very nice that you’re pounding your head bloody against the wall. But really, who cares?
No, I’m not quitting writing. I’ve faced worse rejections in life and have yet to quit anything else. It’s that persistence thing again. I have this delusion that I haven’t submitted my stuff to the right person yet. I typically submit a short story to several places (not all at once, mind you), and it’s only when I’ve gotten a pile of rejections that I begin to think that perhaps there’s a fatal flaw in that particular story and that I should just move on.
I have to admit, my first impulse after being momentarily stunned by the cut (it was the first time I’ve actually submitted a novel) was to send the submission to the next market that I had already thought about on my mental list. So the novel didn’t pass ABNA? Whatever. I’ve already sent a query to another place. Sure, they probably won’t even reply until six months later with a “no”, but it’s better than giving up now.
*Or maybe not.