Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Why do we fall, Master Bruce?"

Answer: "So we learn to pick ourselves up."   Yes, I'm using Batman quotes for motivational purposes, don't question the method of my madness. The reason for the title? I took another step on the road to getting published in the past week, I got my first rejection letter.

It required some ice cream and chocolate to recover from the dismay, but I survived. Logically I know its all part of the process, and there are more than a dozen quotations and platitudes in existence to easy the pain of not being declared a literary genius the first time you dive into the fray. It still sucked, but honestly, not as much as I thought it would.

What helped was that it came with compliments and even more valuable, suggestions. I actually got a professional editor to think enough of my work to point out the flaws and tell me how to make them better. As far as literary rejections go, that’s pretty damned good. Not that I would want any other rejections to go that way, if my dates ended with a critique on my style and where I’d missed the mark, I’d likely need therapy and a lifetime supply of Hagen Daz, but I digress.

What was most interesting was the dilemma of what to do next. Do I change it? Do I leave it as is and resubmit to other publishers?  Do I acknowledge the letter at all or express my appreciation of the time the editor took to read my work and help me understand where it could be made better?  The more I researched, the more answers I got, and every one of the contradicted the others. I have found it fascinating that in a business as old and established as publishing, there are no hard and fast rules about certain things.

 If you want to know the protocol for introducing yourself to royalty, announcing an engagement, declaring war or leaving a job, there’s a tonne of information available.  Need to know how to write a thank you card for that Altarian yak wool sweater your great aunt from Solornus IX sent you for the holidays? There’s likely an app for that.  But if you need to know if it’s acceptable to thank an editor for their time and effort, good luck.

I’ve made my choices and am committed to continuing to pursue getting published as a fiction writer. My first pitch in non-fiction didn’t get picked up either, but that worked out rather well for me once I got the hang of it. Hell, I’ve already done the hardest part, I screwed up my courage and threw the work of my heart and soul into the dark waters for other people to see and have the opportunity to reject it.  After that? Rewriting and improving seems pretty painless.