Pitches & Rejections

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted. Spring Break has come and gone and we are almost done with the semester. I need to spend a little bit of time catching you all up.

Since my last post:

I pitched my novel during Carina Press’s Twitter pitch session and a very nice, very cool editor said she wanted to see it. AHHH! It was completely by surprise, as I just happened to go on Twitter after dinner and saw that there was about an hour left of the session. So, thinking WTH, why not? I wrote a quick tweet and took the dogs on a walk. Of course, I obsessively checked the updates while they checked the pee-mail other dogs had left them, and what do you know? An editor wanted to know more. I tried to remember how many words the thing had when I stopped writing and guessed around 90k (actually more like 115k!) And then she said she’d like to see it and would I please send it her way?

WOULD I? WOULD I? Of course I would. After I freaked out a little bit, I realized that although the novel was actually complete, I hadn’t done another revision since my beta readers got back to me. So, since I had 72 hours before it was due on Sunday at midnight, I spent the next 24 of those hours right here, at this computer and in this (quite hard, now that I think about it) chair, with an imaginary razor in hand and a vicious, take-no-prisoners mentality that allowed me to cut nearly 11K words. I also re-wrote a little bit. And then I sent it off, my heart in my mouth, biting back nausea and nerves. I went to bed and lay there, shocked at how hard I’d worked and what I’d actually done for the first time in my life.

Sadly, I just heard back a few days ago that although she liked the characters and the romance and the plot, there were some things she didn’t like and so she was going to pass. My first rejection. My first pitch and my first bite of interest, and now my first rejection.

I always thought I’d take rejection hard. That my poor skin would be flayed off and I’d want to disappear into a dark corner, pulling my shreds of dignity about me (I get a little dramatic sometimes). But this rejection hurt like peeling a Band-Aid off. There was an initial sting of disappointment and hurt, but then it was gone, and I could think clearly again. And I agreed with the editor. There are some very good things about my novel, but the flaw she pointed out should definitely be fixed. And it was couched in such nice things that the criticism was constructive and helpful. In addition, I learned so much about revising and improving my writing that this learning experience was priceless, no matter what happened. And, now I have great ideas for what I want to change in my next draft, as well as reinforcement that I’m not doing a terrible job.

I think it also helped that I had no real expectations of this. Sure, I was excited and pleased and wanted good things to come out of it. But it was all so spontaneous and quick that I hadn’t built up any true hopes or dreams that might come crashing down. It’s not like I’d researched agents and editors for weeks, carefully crafting a cover letter for days (of course, I did carefully craft it, but there was a deadline) and finally decided to try. It all happened in about thirty minutes, and then the manuscript was gone in three days. No time for anything. Besides, what kind of an asshole writer gets their first novel published after their very first pitch? I’m in it for the long haul!

So, what have I learned?

  • It never hurts to try
  • Revision is about re-learning
  • Rejection is about learning, too
  • Spontaneity can be helpful in keeping hopes in check
  • Having a supportive SO is so very lovely and appreciated.
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