A rejection letter ruins my day. And the closer I seem to get to finding an agent, the more those letters sting.
But rejection has an unexpected edge. It makes your work better.
Every time I get a rejection from a literary agent, I’m crumpled. The words, It’s not fair! kick through my head in a silent, red-faced tantrum. I find it hard to lift a smile. Everything seems heavy.
But my mope always sends me back to the screen. How can I make this thing sing? I try again.
Rejection shakes your work up; it fine-tunes it. It reimagines and reshapes things. It helps you create something a hundred times better than what’s been given the big thumbs down.
But God does it hurt.
There’s a world of difference between the amateur book that I first submitted three years ago. The story is different, the title too. Many darlings have been murdered, but not forgotten. All that telling rather than showing has been rooted out and shoved onto the slag heap.
But it was only by going back to that really rather rubbish book and sending it out again, that it got a new life.
A rejection letter from a literary agent has led me to a brilliant editor and mentor who’s helped me write a book with all the things that were missing from that first attempt. Pace, tension, character arcs – things I hadn’t even realised weren’t there. It was only by sending out my book again and getting rejected over and over that I found her.
She (and me) thinks my book is just about ready – one more scene to write, two more proofreads and then ping – I’m hoping that this book might earn itself a new R word. Representation.
* Post-script – I found representation just a few weeks after I wrote this blog post, and my novel The Maid’s Room has been published by Hodder & Stoughton.