Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rejecting rejections.

Where there is more than one child, inevitably, there is inequality. Just as some are born blonde, or hazel-eyed, some are born with perfect pitch. And some, alas, are not. That doesn’t keep both of them from trying out for a singing troupe. And it doesn’t keep one of them from falling short.

Yes, the one who can go toe to toe with Kelly Clarkson is cut. Does the other child, less musical, offer something else? Stage presence or joy? Of course. But even she realizes the decision is both unfair and typical. They watch reality TV. They know talent has nothing to do with anything.

I tell my middle daughter, as I wipe away her tears, that one audition is just a moment in time. That rejection is part of success. And finally, that you can’t let one man determine if you will or will not sing. Don’t give him that power over you, I say, and I am suddenly stopped in my tracks.

Because I sit, waiting on pins and needles, for my agent to weigh in on My Next Novel. Three years of work. A revision that took twice as long as the first draft. Other novels, finished or on their way, not chosen to go next, once shimmering on the desktop with possibility, fade. Up on the bookshelf, two published novels, and four years’ effort to promote them, appear to hang in the balance. They dangle too close to the edge. Their spines look fragile to me now, delicate as tidepool creatures. The vulnerability of paper and screen. Light a match, hit delete.

I, too, wait like a schoolgirl to see the audition list taped to the door.

Don’t do it, I tell myself. No one, even a wise and witty agent, has the power to hold your whole career in her hand.

I summon the presence of a small army behind me, the editors and readers and book bloggers who said yes. The reviewers from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews and Entertainment Weekly who said love. A flash mob with bookmarks approaches, the 250 book clubs I’ve visited, the women who have underlined my sentences and grasped my hands and fed me their homemade coffee cake. We hear you, they say.

Let no one tell you that you cannot sing.


Melissa Sarno said...

I like your blog. :) And I needed to hear this today.

kelly said...

Thanks, Melissa. We all have to just keep going!

Beth Kephart said...

oh, gosh. You and Melissa are friends! How wonderful is that.

And Kelly, how wonderful (and true) is this.

AmyMak said...

LOVE this. Need this as I can't find an agent to say yes to my first book and although I just typed "The End" on my second(!) I know it's going to takes months and months to get it ready to submit, only to be inevitably rejected by the masses. I'm just looking for one to love! A writer starts to wonder.."Can I keep doing this?" So thanks. I'm facebooking it!

Lisa said...

Beautifully written, and so true! Just what I needed to hear today! I was contemplating throwing in the towel (again).

kelly said...

I could wallpaper my living room with the rejections I received before I was published. Just keep learning and keep an open mind. And keep believing. Trite, but true.

Kathryn Craft said...

Thanks for directing us back to this, Kelly. During the ten years it took to get an agent, and despite the rejection, all roads still seemed to lead toward possibility. There are a gazillion agents!

Now I have one—a narrower reality. Once the actual submissions to houses begin, all those paths of possibility may start to shut down. But I have something no one can take away from me: I wrote a novel that moves me, that I feel is important, and is exactly the one I set out to write.

Now: remind me to feel good about that if the rejections from editors start pouring in...