It came yesterday.
I was waiting for it.
The rejection. The thank-you-but-no-thank-you. The you’re-not-good-enough. The remove-your-begging-face-from-our-window-and-never-darken-our doors-again.
As soon as I saw the envelope, I just knew. Having been in the writing game since I was a nipper (well, on the substitute’s bench at the very least) I’ve developed a sniffer dog’s instinct for the standard rejection slip. I even told my wife to flush it down the toilet without opening it because I just knew Goddamnit.
But she made me open it. Just in case. Because that’s what you do. Just in case. Because what if it was an actual acceptance?
I opened it.
It was a thank-you-but-no-thank-you.
So. The first hurdle has been leapt over. My first novel has received its first rejection slip.
Do I feel gutted? Eviscerated? Suicidal?
Actually, no. I feel pretty even-keeled about it. Having fought tooth and nail to get a total of 30 poems published in my twenties I’m well aware of how many rejections you have to go through before you get the acceptance. I’d say it’s about 40-1.
With novel writing the odds are going to be longer. Well, fine. I’m hardened to it. I can take it. Right on the chin. Doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. But I’m not going to be cowed by it.
And as rejections go this was a pretty good one. The printed slip clearly stated that the agent in question was unable to give personal feedback or a personal reply. And yet at the bottom of the slip was precisely that. Personal feedback. And good feedback at that. “Very well written”, “interesting concept”. They didn’t seem much of a consolation at first but my wife has pointed out that the agent didn’t need to write any of that. They could have fobbed me off with the printed slip.
And there was more. She felt the novel progressed too slowly for her. So there’s an option for me to review it and cut cut cut perhaps? She also felt it was mainstream literary rather than genre which is where I’d placed it. So maybe I just stuck it in the wrong pigeonhole? This changes the range of agents I can now approach. Widens the field.
So. A rejection.
But more a kick up the arse than a kick in the teeth.
As rejections go, that’s not bad.