Friday, January 05, 2007

Back To The Drawing Board

I was worried the other day that I wouldn't have anything to blog about. Oh, how cruel the Fates are. To quote Blair from Maven Linda's latest book DROP DEAD GORGEOUS "...the Fates are not cooperating. I hate the Fates, don't you? Whoever the dumb b!tches are." They solved that problem and crushed my ambitions in one quick blow.

Big surprise, I got a R on the full of FE I had in NYC. It was quick and painful - no compliments, no offers to read other material. Just a "won't work, thanks" letter dated December 21st, so they no doubt cranked it out quickly to clean off their desk before they went on vacation. That's half the reason I submitted in January last year. How was I to know it would be Christmastime again when I got my R. I've been a desk cleaning victim before. Not that I didn't deserve the R, they just always seemed rushed - no word for months, then BOOM, right at Christmas as they're heading out the door. It makes me wonder if more people get rejected in December and January than other months. So, a year since I submitted the partial originally, so not awful, timewise. They didn't let me dangle for 9 months, but that's the best thing I can say. Otherwise, its a year of my life spent waiting for nothing. The sequel I wrote is pointless. The next one I was plotting even more pointless.

The submission process is like crawling up this huge ladder. If you move up one rung and submit a query and get knocked down, it smarts, but you've only fallen a foot or so. Up a few more rungs when your partial is requested and you submit it. By the time you've climbed high enough that your full MS is up there, it starts to get dangerous. If you don't make that last step that allows you to climb off the ladder onto the platform of publication, you've got a long way to fall. And you were so close. So close. And now you have to start all over. With a bruised hind-end.

Now what? Its one thing to write while you've got your work circulating, another to write knowing this is all you've got. Everything is riding on what you're writing right now and by the time you finish and start that submission process...if I'm lucky, I could have an '09 on my cover. If not...maybe that one gets rejected, I write two or three more before I finally succeed...maybe 2011? 2012? It makes me tired just thinking about working all those years with nothing but 'education' in return.

I'm writing this less than an hour after reading the letter, so its still very fresh, very raw. I'm sure I'll feel fine in a few days. Some alcohol and some chocolate might do the trick. Just not right now.

So...setbacks...we've all had them. How do you deal? Tell me an uplifting story about a time you thought you'd never accomplish your goal, but triumphed nonetheless. Please.



Problem Child said...

Right there with you SP.

It sucks and blows at the same time.

You're right; the further along you are in the process, the more it hurts. By the time they've had a full for six months or so, you're invested and hopeful.

Go ahead and wallow. But remember, there are other publishers for paranormal romances. Maybe you should start subbing to them.

Linda Winstead Jones said...

I will probably end up saying more than I should, here, but maybe there will be something useful hidden in the rambling.

First of all, someone made a huge mistake. They *will* be sorry when you're hugely popular and they recall that they could've signed you on. Remember that.

The truth of the matter is, this is not an easy business. Sometimes it's unnecessarily and harshly hard. It is not for the faint of heart. :-)

You want to know about digging out. Here goes. Long ago (more than a dozen years -- ouch)when I had a couple books out and a couple more sold, I tried to get an agent. I sent out four queries (each one to a very fine agent) with samples of my work. Three of them rejected me very nicely. One of them said I "didn't have what it takes to make it in this tough business." I was crushed. It hurt. I was convinced that she was right.

My husband, being much more practical than I will ever be, said something I can't repeat here and then ended with, "Prove her wrong." Since this spring and summer my 52nd, 53rd, 54th and 55th books will be out, I think I have. I could've quit then. I could've decided that she knew more than I did and gone on to something else. I shudder to think. :-) Instead for years I remembered what my husband said. Prove her wrong. It was like a mantra. I worked and I got better, and ended up with the best agent ever -- the dream agent -- the one I've had for going on 11 years, now. All is well.

That is not the only time I've been disheartened, rejected, insulted, and dissed. Sometimes there is no silver lining -- it just sucks. But on more than one occasion what seemed like disaster at the time lead to something better down the road.

There's something better for you down the road. You will end up at the right place at the right time. That doesn't mean this shouldn't hurt, and I would never deny you alcohol (come on over! I have Fig Vodka :-)) and chocolate, but when that's done keep your eyes ahead and remember --

Prove 'em wrong.


Smarty Pants said...

I need to put that sign up in my office. "PROVE THEM WRONG!"

Anonymous said...

SP, so sorry about the "R", but you're getting good advice and support here. Listen to it because these women know what they're talking about.

I'm looking forward to reading the uplifting stories, myself. I've got a book due in 7 weeks and spent yesterday rewriting the opening chapters with tears streaming down my cheeks. It was one of those, "I'm never going to make it" moments. The moral being, this is, indeed, a very difficult business to be in.

So maybe we can both suck our chins up and push through...there's not much else we can do, huh?

Jen said...

SP, first off, I'm going to do something I seldom do -- I'm sending you a cyberhug. I think it's the general "no thanks" without any useful feedback that makes it harder to take.

Next, I'm going to step out on a limb and share this with cyberspace. In October I queried four agents with a ST proposal. I'm still waiting to hear from two of them. One turned me down because of the story. I could handle that. The other one turned me down because "she didn't think the writing was strong enough." Ouch, ouch, and ouch.

A good friend pointed out SEP's speech at RWA when she mentioned that early in her career an agent had turned her down. SEP stood on the stage and said, "Bet you're sorry now" and grinned. My friend said, "That's going to be you one day, Jen."

So, in the vein of LJ, I'm going with the Prove Them Wrong motto.

Playground Monitor said...

I'll entertain you with a silly story about when I used to write fanfiction, had written the best story of my "career" and had it disqualified from the fandom's annual awards because they said I'd cheated. The "rules" said voting was open to fans yet there was no membership required and no definition of what a "fan" was. So I asked my DH, my sister, my mom and a group of friends to vote for my story if they thought it was the best in the category.

TPTB decided I was stuffing the ballot box and thereby cheating and they disaqualified the story. I was pissed. Hell, I was beyond pissed. They ran the whole deal and there was no upper level of management I could run to crying "Foul." It did cause a controversy in the fandom and later a huge rift. It also caused me to stop writing for a while. Fanfiction was the first fiction I'd ever written.

I sulked and fumed and when folks would email me and ask when I was going to write another story I'd tell them "I'm not. Why bother when TPTB make up the rules as they go along?" So I stopped writing for a while.

Then one day I accidentally posted a snippet of one piece of fanfiction to an email loop that had some published writers on it. When I realized what I'd done, I apologized. One author privately emailed me and told me not to apologize but to stop messing around with fanfiction and start writing my own stories because she saw some talent there. That was in 2003. She's still one of my biggest supporters and a dear friend.

Yeah... being rejected by a bunch of people who have nothing better to do with their time than obsess over a TV program is a lot different than being rejected by a major publishing house. My point is that without a little encouragement from a wise friend I'd have given up for good. Maybe some OTHER power that is had me accidentally post that snippet to that loop and set the whole thing in motion.

I love LJ's mantra and you should adopt it as your own -- Prove Them Wrong. Maybe we should get T-shirts. *g*

Anonymous said...

Jen, I think I know that agent. I got a similar reject that said, "I don't feel strong enough about your writing to sufficiently represent you."

Yeah. That's going for the jugulur, and was a comment I felt completely unnecessary.

Oh, and the Harlequin editors had a different opinion about the very same book. So big raspberries to her.

Angel said...

I find the emotional backlash of rejection the hardest to deal with. I'm not one of these people who can just shake it off and move on. It takes me a while to work through, sometimes I even struggle with writers block from it.

But somehow I find the courage to write again, even knowing that it may be years before I ever know whether this one is IT or not. I think it is the hope that comes with each new story that keeps me going. (Not to mention the newness of the characters and working out the plot.)

Find hope in your newest story, SP. We all love it! There's an editor out there who will love it too.

Plus, you have the advantage of being able to submit to other publishers, unlike those of us who write short. If a category manuscript is rejected from Harlequin, your only other option is electronic. Truly tragic to not have as many options.


Kathy said...

The only time I've ever gotten up the nerve to submit to an editor, I received a very encouraging response wanting me to send in a partial. Then 3 months of long waiting later, I received the R saying my writing wasn't strong enough. Devastated, not knowing what this editor was trying to tell me and therefore taking it the most negative of ways, I sank into a deep depression, stopped writing, and spent all my time obsessing over the POTO. 3 months later, I took a chance and went to the HOD Luncheon. The best thing I've ever done! My life has been forever changed by the friendships I've made since. But that was not my intended road, I can't bare to think of what I would've missed had I not gotten up the nerve to attend that luncheon.

I understand how much this must hurt. I hear what you're saying about the significance of time and how much longer this road is going to take. But remember this important thing, the road will continue. Like an ever lengthening line of white and yellow to mark the way, the end is never in sight. The highway is yours and you pick the exit, you pick the rest areas, but no matter what, eventually you must merge back onto the road. And YOU WILL! Why, you ask? Because you LOVE to write. You LOVE to bring characters to life. You LOVE to get lost in your discovered worlds. And ain't nobody going to take that away from you. Ain't nobody going to cheat you out of what you LOVE.

LJ says PROVE THEM WRONG! I believe in YOU! I hurt for you. Even though I've not been in your shoes....yet. You will rise above this with something even better. Your time will come. How do I know this? Because you've got talent, babe. Ain't no doubt about that! Chin up. Remember what we can't control what the powers that be do or decide, but we can control our determination. Be strong. And never forget all the ones who've got your back.


Angel said...

I think that's a very interesting analogy, Kathy. This journey is a road, and publication is just one section of it. No matter where it comes along the way, the road is still there. We may not drive as fast or with as much determination if we're not aiming for publication, but we'd still be driving.


Instigator said...

I'm really sorry, SP! I'm happy to share in the chocolate, booze, and wallowing if you want some company.