I sent my first novel out on query in January. I received several partials and one request for a full submission. I was stunned. Floored. Ecstatic. Doing the happy dance all over the house.
And I submitted. And I re-read what I submitted. And lo, the work was subpar and not ready for submission. And I retracted. And the agent said "Let me see thy work when you have revised."
And I went forth and revised. But I failed to send for critique by worthy readers. I failed to let the work sit and ferment in it's own digestive stew. I failed to follow all the things the great writerly apostles tell us to do:
- Read it out loud.
- Let it sit for a week or two
- Read it again
- Let others read it
- Revise, revise, revise,
- Repeat steps (1) through (5)
And I resubmitted against these commandments. And thus, I was smote down by the hand of the agent (not really, she was super nice and gave me some really good feedback) and I was laid low in the land of "Nod Ready for Publishing."
And now I turn my eyes to heaven and search for the divine writer/author to pronounce my penance and lead me back to the land of editorial might, that I may sit at the foot of wit and wisdom and find those words and ways that will ensure my favor in the literary eye.
And I'm okay with that. I'm okay with being rejected. I'm okay with being told what's wrong with my book. If no one told me what was wrong, I would keep doing the same things over and over again and never improve.
Sure, it stings (a little), but the fact that I had doubts and misgivings of my own mean it really wasn't ready to submit. It really wasn't even ready to query. As excited as I was to finish it, to get it 'out there' in the hands of agents and publishers, part of me knew it needed more work. So I violated my own principals by sending it out anyway. Silly me.
So in the end, my rejection is a victory. For one thing, someone in the profession actually took the time to not only respond to my query (so the query itself must have been good), they loved the premise (so I must be writing about the right stuff) and they read the whole thing (so it must not be that awful).
It's a win, a victory, in my book, because I've been validated as an author. Like yesterday's post said, I don't need to be published to be read. But being read definitely provides validation. And being read by some of the toughest folks in the business and being encouraged to continue writing, that's a victory I'll celebrate any time.