I have stopped counting the rejections. It's too depressing. If I kept track of the number I'd probably give up writing all together. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I am worried that I only get so many rejections and that's it. Kind of like a batter who gets three strikes and he's out. My thought is, for writers, we get a lot more than three strikes, though. (We're not quite as quick learners, so we get a few dozen more to smarten up).
Some writers, like Stephen King, have used rejection as a badge of honor of sorts. In his book, On Writing (which I highly recommend), he mentions early in his writing career he collected rejection slips on a nail on the wall of his workspace as a reminder of how far he'd come. Of course the king of the horror genre would do such a thing. Me, well, I am not so brave. I either rip them up into a million pieces or have myself a good cry. Or both, on a given day.
My first rejection for writing came oh so long ago from my high school newspaper advisor. She didn't give me a rejection letter per se, but instead stifled a smirk at the mere thought of this rather timid young girl becoming a newspaper journalist. "You? You're seriously considering becoming a writer?" Needless to say, I harbored a huge grudge and promised myself someday she'd know how wrong she really was.
And for a while, I thought I was succeeding. I had my share of accolades for writing. I won contests as a newspaper editor, as a feature writer and even a couple for fiction writing. But somehow, in this elusive gig called writing fiction, you're only as good as your last publication. The sting of rejection is considerably stronger than any accolade can ever be.
I thought I'd amassed a pretty tough skin over the years as the rejections continued to mount to so many I could wallpaper the bathroom with them (if I'd only kept them rather than shred them).
The latest came Friday evening via email. It wasn't one of those generic "It's not right for us, but we wish you success in finding placement elsewhere." This was a personal critique. It's the first big house to ever comment on my work and not either A)Toss it in the circular file (aka trash can) or B) Send it back via SASE with nary a pen mark. I held my breath, hoping upon hope this editor wanted my young adult novel that I felt was possibly one of the best things I've ever written.
Nope. Yet another blow to the already bruised ego. Bottom line, she said I had a great voice and it was a fresh idea for a genre saturated with vampires, werewolves and anything else that can rip you apart limb by limb. But again, it wasn't what they wanted or needed. I had failed.
I truly had thought this was it, my golden ticket of sorts. My chance at sharing my stories with the world. But, alas, there are no golden tickets in publishing. I just have to keep plugging at it and hope that at some point something will hit.
I figure this batter has a few more strikes left in her. My home run will come. In the meantime, maybe I should start collecting those rejections and wallpaper my bathroom for free.