Yesterday was a hard day. I didn’t even realize until I woke up this morning exactly how hard it was.
First, I received the last two rejections from agents who had requested fulls of my newest manuscript. I know that doesn’t seem like much, and honestly it shouldn’t be, since I’ve received so many rejections now that I should be used to it, but it closed this chapter of my aspirations with a finality I was not truly prepared for. The fact that the rejections came within a few hours of each other (and the first one was from my top-choice agent who held onto the submission longer than most) left me reeling just a little bit.
I had convinced myself that I’d moved on from this story (I realized several months ago that it was probably not going to be represented, but by the time I figured that out I’d already sent out nearly 150 queries, so I just had to stick with it and see it through). Even though I thought I had accepted that this manuscript was not going to be picked up by an agent, apparently I was still holding out hope, because it was a little deflating to get those two rejections on top of the one for my short story the day before. Both letters were full of praise as well as legitimate reasons for why this novel doesn’t work, and I am grateful that both agents took the time to do that (form rejections are very common in this industry, and, while professional, they do little to help a writer improve. Still, they’re better than the complete lack of response which is even more common at the querying level). Now I have new information to work with, and feel even more prepared for when I eventually start this process again. As before, length was still a main factor for the one of the agents’ decisions, though this is no longer surprising. Had I known that longer works are almost never accepted for debut authors, I’m not sure I would have ever queried this book at all. Luckily, I’m working on a new book now, and this one will be shorter. See? I have learned some things.
Overall, I am glad I jumped into the query process with as much gusto as I did. While, looking back, I realize that I dug myself into a hole early on by shopping a long MS to too many people without leaving myself any backups should it require revision, I am more aware of how the business works and will not make the same mistakes again. I will, as always, improve.
It is incredibly difficult to put this manuscript on a shelf, but I am aware that it is the only option left. Perhaps it is a good thing. For the first time in a while, I am forced to commit myself to other things, and that might offer a growth that cannot be achieved through stagnancy.
Still, though–I had really hoped that someone would accept my manuscript before this upcoming Summer, since I will be stepping down from my job and thrown into a sea of uncertainty (yesterday I also presented my resignation to the school board, which solidified another closed door I was not truly prepared for). If I am not to teach next year, I kind of hoped that I could find solace in knowing I was still adding to the world through other means. I think that landing an agent and moving forward with something I had created would have given me a sense of accomplishment that may otherwise be absent in the coming months.
Hopefully, whatever job I find in the future will give me a chance to write. If I cannot take any solid steps forward from here, I can at least try not to take too many backwards.