Agents 3, Chris 0

And that number after “Agents” is certain to climb!

I’m solidly in the game now, having received my first three rejections. One was a nicely written and carefully worded form rejection and the other two were more substantive. One of those was particularly thoughtful and detailed, having come after she’d read the first 50 pages. (So even though the whole endeavor ended with rejection, put a checkmark in the query box–it did its job and got me a pages request).

My great fear all along has been rejections on the order of “hey look, you just can’t write” or “you need to work on your craft” or “you need to hone your wordsmithery.” I’m grateful that so far my rejections have actually been complimentary of my writing, the last one going so far as to say “We think you’re a wonderful writer and that this is a great premise.” So now I’m going to tell everyone I’m a wonderful writer.

More importantly, however, this agent’s stated reasons for passing on the book were detailed and thoughtful. She pointed out a few areas where the main character was arguably out of character or reacted in a way that wasn’t justified by the circumstances. One comment was about a particularly dark paragraph that she said felt too dark for the book. And now that I’m seeing it through someone else’s eyes, its clear that she’s right (though I hate to let it go, I’m in love with the language. But this is what we, as Wonderful Writers®, have to do. Kill our darlings).

I felt a little bit down for maybe 30 minutes as I processed the rejection. After that, I’m resolved to make these little changes where necessary and power through! I’m reminded of what an agent said during a session at the Texas Writers’ League Conference in June: Every rejection is an opportunity.

And I agree, especially when that rejection comes with helpful feedback.

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