I stumbled this week. I broke my own golden rule: I replied to a rejection. I’ve even written about not replying to rejections, and then I got the email at work, and I tried to make myself think it through, but . . . ugh. It was a terrible conflation of my job reaching new loathsome lows, no sleep to deal with it, and then this email.
And the thing is: it wasn’t a bad rejection. It was, in fact, a kind, personal rejection. It was sincere and well-intentioned . . . but let me explain.
I have been chugging through my query list, a few out every so many weeks, and, well, I’m doing okay in terms of requests for more material but I also know what several agents have told me: this book might not get picked up, period. It’s not-YA, the market is saturated, everyone has similar projects on their lists. And each time I’ve been told this I have just bowed my head and pushed on. Because this book chose me, it’s got three years of my life in it and I’m still twiddling with it while I get ready to tackle its sequel. It is what it is.
I saw this agent’s website, though, and I had a good feeling. Things about her background, her education, the kinds of stories she was looking for . . . it felt possible, in a way that not every name on my big list feels.
The rejection made it clear that my instinct was right: it was a near-miss, a difficult decision. She said nice things about my writing and the book. And then she finished by saying she was certain it would soon find a home, if it hadn’t already.
It was the last line that did it. Because I’m totting up rejections well into the double figures now; because I’ve been at this for months and will probably be at it for the rest of the year and who knows what will happen then; because I am struggling. I knew it would be a struggle but there’s a world of difference between looking ahead to the struggle and being immersed in the struggle. I should have felt buoyed by her words; instead I felt wounded, inadvertently mocked, and I replied with some passive-aggressive sh*t poorly veiled as a thank-you.
So Ms. Agent, if you are out there: I apologize. I would do so in an email but I’ve abused that line of communication, I don’t want to impose further. It was unprofessional and, I hope, atypical. I am sorry.
And starting next week, no more checking email at work. 🙁