Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Second Biggest Loser

By Nichole Giles

Have I ever mentioned the rejection contest held every year in one of my writing groups? Probably. Anyway, last year I took second. For the most part I’m proud of that. But every once in a while, I wonder if being the second biggest loser is really all it’s cracked up to be.

I mean, should I really be proud of the fact that I continually get rejected by publishers and agents?

Actually, the answer is yes. I should. Because every successful author I know has a long, long list of rejections. From what I understand, Harry Potter was rejected something like thirty times. Twilight was rejected seven times. The Mazerunner was also rejected a bunch of times before it got picked up by Delacorte. Stephen King pinned his rejections to the wall in front of his desk and collected them until he finally got a contract. Every author gets rejected.

It’s not personal, it’s business. And generally I’ve grown tough enough to deal with what used to fill me with a sense of loss and make me wonder if I’ll ever be good enough. But every once in a while, I’ll get a rejection—usually a stupid one that’s no big deal like a magazine article proposal or something—that hits me with an arrow at a vulnerable time or in a sensitive spot. And even though I know it’s absolutely stupid to be upset, the build-up of other rejections crashes down on me and makes me wonder if I’ll ever see the payoff. If I’ll ever submit something that someone will actually be excited about.

This year I’ve accumulated something like 24 rejections. Probably more. And I still have two and a half months left in the year, and several more submissions out. Yes, every once in a while, that number is depressing. But the thing is, I only really need one acceptance to make my efforts worth it. Just one.

In life and writing, there are no guarantees. Sometimes you work really, really hard, and you pray, and you go to great lengths to insure success, only to have it thrown back in your face. So what do you do? You pick yourself up and dance. Because at some point, realization dawns that each rejection is a step up a ladder, and no matter how long it takes, as long as you keep climbing, you will eventually get to the top.

From my personal rung, I’m seeing a whole lot of people reach that spot, and I know I’m not really all that far away. So, yes, I can take a few more rejections, because each one gets me that much closer to good news.

Only this year, I intend to be the number one biggest loser. Hey, if I’m going to be a loser, at least I get to have my name on a plaque.


Cheri Chesley said...

I have a query folder where I post all my emailed rejections. Sometime I'll go in there and count them, but don't worry about me--I'm not in the running. Been kinda lazy this year.

Carolyn V. said...

Nichole, you know your stuff. Don't worry the time will come when it's right.

This is a tough business.

L.T. Elliot said...

I loved that example of ladders and a rung. I'm glad you're seeing an accepting place. It won't be long now.

Nichole Giles said...

OH yes, Cheri. That is a great idea.

Carolyn, thanks for the vote of confidence. I do know the time will come, and I think that's exactly the point. It's the waiting part that's hard, right?

L.T.,you're right. It won't be long for either one of us. In the meantime, let's dance. (I've decided the Snoopy dance is outdated, and am going to learn the Hula now. Want to join me?)