It is ~*me*~ again.
(My secret wish is that by the time I am done these guest blogs, you will forever associate ~*~ with "that Courtney chick.")
(So then years from now, should Colleen one day decide to ~*~ , you'll be like, "Hey, whatever happened to that Courtney chick?")
(And the answer will be, "Oh, she married Jeff Probst.")
(Yeah, that's right. Jeff Probst.)
Since my first guest blog was about How I Got My Agent, I thought I'd make my second guest blog about the agents I didn't get... and why they're just as important as the agent I did. I also thought I'd close this entry with a Heartfelt Moral, but no guarantees...
So when I first started writing and querying agents, I was pretty much prepared for the constant rejection that would follow. This is because I was unpopular in middle school and middle school rejection made an agent looking at my e-query and replying with a polite, no thanks, almost, but not quite, as easy to swallow as the ~*amazing*~ pumpking pie I had last weekend (I hope you Canadian Swivet readers had a Happy Thanksgiving!).
What I wasn't prepared for was the way certain rejections would positively and majorly impact my adventures in writing. And I didn't always realize it at the time because not all of those rejections were positive experiences. Rejections can be total Dream Destroyers, yes, but sometimes they can be--trite as this sounds--a gift. Gifts disguised as Dream Destroyers, even!
The first important rejection I received was from one of the first three agents I queried for my first novel (which might've been women's fiction about a directionless 20-something, but was definitely a mess). She requested a partial. I sent it off to her and dreamed of that partial request turning into a request for a full. I did not anticipate opening up my inbox and being told that I wasn't ready for an agent. What. I stared at that line in the email for so long--feeling stupid and embarrassed--that it took me a while to see the "But." But? "But," the email said, "You will be." Below that was her phone number. She wanted to arrange a talk.
Later that week, I found myself having a 30 minute conversation with a literary agent who told me I wasn't ready for representation, but I could be, it wouldn't happen with this book, that it would probably take years and it would be a lot of work, and what was required of me to make it happen. I remember hanging up the phone feeling like the whole thing was totally beyond me until I realized at least one person in the industry didn't think it was. That was a lucky first time out, I admit, but that agent expressing a certainty that it would eventually happen was something that kept me going when I wasn't feeling so certain myself, and her rejection gave me the courage to let go of my first book and write my second.
My second novel (featuring a younger directionless 20-something, and only slightly less of a mess than the first) brought about many, many rejections from agents, and none of them said too much about why they were passing, which never bodes well. Finally, one agent tacked a note onto their no that changed everything. It said, "Sorry, but I don't handle borderline YA." After I read that, I swear I left a dent in my forehead, I smacked it so hard. Without that agent's rejection, it might've taken me at least 10 more years to figure out what I was meant to write.
Seriously, I'm pretty slow on the uptake.
My third novel was a high-concept YA (yay YA!), except, tired of rejection, I decided to write to what I thought the market wanted, even though I wasn't really feeling it. This novel garnered a lot of interest. An agent emailed me, loved the book and wanted to talk about it. We had a great phone call. She had revision suggestions. I liked them. She had more. She said she'd write up a revision letter and if I agreed to it, we'd go forward with representation. I notified other agents of the interest and they bowed out, but that was okay because I was 99% sure I had an agent. I waited on the revision notes. And waited. And waited some more. I sent 'what's up?' emails. They went unanswered. The new year came. Just when I had completely given up, the agent emailed me... to let me know she was leaving the business and was sorry we wouldn't be working together.
It didn't feel like it at the time--I was devastated--but after I regrouped, I realized not getting that agent was one of the best things to happen to me. I didn't want an agent representing that book; one I wasn't really in love with and one I couldn't write again. I decided the next novel I wrote was going to be a total uhm... balls-out experience and it was going to be everything I wanted it to be. Without that agent's rejection, I might not have written that novel. That novel was Cracked Up to Be.
So that's why the agents I didn't get were as important as the ones I did. Their rejections made a large impact on my writing life and without their 'nos', I truly believe I would have never gotten my agent's 'yes'. Consequently, I'm totally one of those writers who believes every 'no' brings you closer to a 'yes' (if only we could all know how many 'nos' before that yes, though!), and I've decided this holds true not only in writing life, but in life-life as well.
Like, I am SURE if I just keep asking Jeff Probst to marry me he's gonna have to give at some point.
~*insert Heartfelt Moral here*~
How about you, Swivet readers? Have you gotten a rejection for your writing that made a positive impact on it?