Big news! My most recent submission got rejected! With a personal letter!! It was a pretty big deal really. It means that I am close. That someone out there who isn't a friend or family member obligated to like my work likes my work! The letter said that my piece was good but it needed a bit more development. That I should continue to submit as they were interested to read more of my stuff. WIN!!
Sometimes it's the little things, really. The baby steps.
I actually got rejected three times in one week. The first was for a flash fiction piece that I am really proud of but haven't found the right audience yet. The email came when we were visiting my sister-in-law, and I'll be honest here, it made me cry a little. But my husband, my sister-in-law and my best friend (via text) all told me I needed to keep pushing forward, that it took a lot of courage to get this far and I should be proud of that. The second rejection was the personal letter. It was for a short story I wrote back when I was teaching - as a model for the students. I've been tweaking it here and there and it is slowly taking on a more publishable shape. My writing group friends and critique partner agreed that the letter was good news, and I was reminded of Stephen King's advice in On Writing (if you haven't read the book - it's a great one!) that you need to take these sort of letters to heart. People in the publishing world know things. Listen to them. The third rejection was one I was already expecting, but came officially via form letter. Last fall I submitted a piece about our first adoption and how it changed my life. It was a real tear-jerker. Got both my parents to cry. But it didn't make the cut. It is a good piece, and I am hoping to find a home for it someplace else. The bottom line is that my writing will come across the desk of someone and if it doesn't speak to them, they will pass on it. But someday soon (and it has happened before - so I am hopeful) it will come across the desk of someone and it WILL speak to them.
My novel is nearly done. Once the first draft is finished I'll need to go back and revise, and I hope to get the opinions of some trusted readers (if you are interested - let me know!) along the way. Then the querying will begin. The sending out of my baby into the world to see if the professionals think it has a chance. I am both excited and terrified about this step. People are always posting good news online - securing an agent, getting a book deal, successfully self-publishing. Of course they don't post the bad news. The piles of rejections. The heartbreak. It's there. And I guess my advice for today is to look for the levels of rejection and try to find the positive. Advice from someone who generally sees the glass as half-empty, but who is trying to shift her perspective ever so slightly.