Last week I was going strong. Two weeks into '50k in 30 Days', my word total wasn't quite on track, but not shameful either. I was coping with a fairly heavy workload in my paid work, coupled with finishing off one novel and starting the next. Beside the writing, there was a lot of peripheral stuff going on (including a building project), which I was managing to juggle because I had a feeling I was going somewhere.
And then, last Thursday, the letter came. I knew it a glance. The long expected reply from Harlequin Mills&Boon. The last two times I'd received such a letter, I'd torn it open, thereby rushing headlong into full-blown rejection. This time, I thought I'd wait and give myself a bit of time to prepare myself. Sure I didn't know it would be a rejection, but it was what I expected.
A half hour, a cup of tea, a couple of email and txt messages later, to the urging of both my Lisa friends, I opened it. It was exactly what I'd expected. The medical romance I'd sent off last September had been rejected.
On the bright side, it's the longest rejection I've ever received. It came with suggestions for my 'next' submission. It appears they've worked out I'm probably in it for the long haul.
So it's with a bit of a heavy heart that I announce this sad little bit of news to the cyber community out there, to the three women and their dogs who read my blog. Just another day at the office for an aspiring writer, I know that.
But though I wasn't surprised, though I fully expected this outcome, what a rejection letter does, is to shake the foundations. It burns down your carefully built house of cards. It makes you second-guess yourself so that you wonder if you ever wrote anything worth reading, and if you in fact didn't, whether you ever will.
So what now? It's a little hard to pick myself right up and continue to produce a steady stream of words for my 50k challenge. The novel that I started with great expectations now seems just another pathetic attempt at writing something that someone will find interesting.
More than anything, I think this provides a great opportunity to 'stock-take'. It's not so bad, every now and then, to examine what you're doing and to ask some really tough questions. What am I going to write next that's going to rise above the standard that's already been rejected three times? What is going to make any difference to the status quo?
These, and other issues will be subjects to ponder over the coming weeks leading into the RWA Conference. First and foremost, I'm going to copy down the four pieces of advice I received in the rejection letter, blow them up into 20pt font and paste them into my writing notebook. Then, every time I write I will ask myself if I'm following the advice, or continuing along the comfortable rut I've created for myself these past few years.
And please, no words of encouragement. No praise or commiseration. I get it. It's a rejection, and I understand its implications as well as its loud-and-clear message. What I hope to take from this, is a renewed commitment to writing, a dogged determination to be published despite the rejections. At the moment, I don't know if I have the strength. I guess I'm entitled to a few days' respite to mull it over.