Rejection Short Form:
Jurassic Park - "Dinosaurs? You sent us a book about dinosaurs?"
The Firm - "Nobody is going to root for the lawyer - there just going to want him to get killed."
Harry Potter - "we might be interested if the kid didn't wear these stupid glasses all the time. And what the hell is quiddich?"
So here's my theory on rejection. Who needs it?
At least that's what I felt like when the first bunch of rejection letters came in. Actually I don't know if they were letters, they could have been e-mails or phone calls or smoke signals for all I know. Come to think of it - how do I know I was even rejected - it could have just been a conspiracy between my agent and covert network that reaches into the highest levels of government to keep me... Whoa - I really have to get working on the next book - the fiction world is starting to invade my reality (or is it the other way around?).
Back to the topic. I loved Becky's post, she is almost like the little angel on our shoulders - speaking positive thoughts. I'm not going to take the opposite tack, because I actually agree with her completely, but to make this interesting ponder this thought: Where would we be without rejection?
To some extent I can trace most of my failures in life (and there have been alot of them) to thinking things were easy. To having success at some project or task too early on. If a sport comes easy and you're better than your peer group than why practice? If your making money in the stock market by throwing darts at the Wall Street Journal and buying the stocks you hit, then why learn about balance sheets or worry when your dart hits Bear Sterns or Enron, just go with it.
And if writing comes easy and everybody around you lives for the golden words you will soon scrawl in calligraphy like swirls across the page then why even study the classics or near classics or the even a Stan Lee comic (Also classic by the way). Why look to see what else is out there - and not necessarily just what is successful but what moves you, successful or not, and why? Why bother? Early success will do that too you - it makes you lazy. Fear of rejection makes you work.
The thing we don't like to admit is that this profession/calling/obsession is as much craftsmanship as it is art and inspiration. Without the fear of rejection we could all just ramble - stream of consciousness style. (Yes I see the irony - I'm doing that right now, I know - but you see, no one can reject me - I am author, editor and publisher. Muhuhahaha - the POWER makes me giddy!)
And yet even here - I would hate to let my fellow bloggers and readers of this blog down. I'm okay with it if they disagree with me, I'm okay with it if they don't like the angle I take on a certain question. What I'm not okay with is if they thought my effort was lacking.
And maybe that's the trick with rejection - use the fear of it to force yourself to do your best work. Don't get rejected because the threads of your story didn't quite come together - get rejected because they came together fantastically but in a way that that particular reader did not like. Get rejected because your hero was too much of an ass, or too much of a lover, or too much of something, instead of being too little. Get rejected because of what your story is instead of what it isn't. That way you can look at rejection and take something from it.
After receiving this first round of rejections -my agent came to me and told me what these letters said. There five - and one editor who just never spoke to us again after receiving the manuscript (Either it was so bad he quit the industry or he's still deciding - not sure which) but out of the five there was a consistent thread - all of them loved the story, most of them loved the characters, four of the five thought it just took too long to get going.
After I got done ranting about how these fools should be locked up and sedated at the very least - I realized they were maybe...okay probably... okay definitely right. So I dove back into the book - rewrote it again and shortened the first half by 5,000 words. (And its still a little long - good for building character - bad for pacing.)
So who needs rejection? Well, maybe we all do, as long as we can learn something from it. On the other hand we also need to be able to REJECT the rejection if it is unhelpful or repugnant to what we are trying to do.
Can you imagine Jurassic Park without Dinos, The Firm being about an Ice Cream Vendor, and Harry Potter looking like some kid from Saved by the Bell. Or Carrie - having a happy "Utopian" ending.
VIVA REJECTION - it works both ways.