Rejection. "I'm rejecting you." There's no way to tip-toe around how awful this can make you feel, hearing those words in life. From a boyfriend, from a potential employee, and yes, even from a literary agent.
The natural questions of doubt have started to arise: What if I'm just wasting time/spinning my wheels? What if I never get published? And probably the worst of all: What if I'm just not good enough?
At this point, I have a choice to make. Continue to wallow, to feel sad, to feel down (and, to be unproductive!) - OR - pick myself up, dust myself off, and remind myself of these FACTS:
* A rejection is NOT personal. Many, many times, a rejection has to do more with the agent's particular needs-of-the-moment. Or a lack of confidence in their abilities to sell the material. Or maybe they're just too swamped with other clients. There are SO many reasons an agent gives rejection. Why instantly assume it's because the writing was terrible?
* The odds against unpublished authors are ENORMOUS. I once read that the average agent receives upwards of 600 query letters - PER WEEK. And that from those 600 letters, they choose maybe 2 or 3 to pursue (to request chapters or full manuscripts). I think that says a lot. The competition is insane.
* Even the best/most famous authors went through rejection. Wow, look at this article, detailing how some of the most well-known authors endured rejection, too!
* Quitting GUARANTEES failure. If I don't submit queries/chapters, if I don't put myself out there, go to conferences, make contact with the right people, if I don't TRY -- I will NEVER get published. It's a 100% certainty.
And the most important fact of all:
* I don't write in order TO get published. I write because I love it. Because there are stories in my head that insist on being told, characters who force themselves to come to light. THAT is why I write. Because of the thrill I get when my fingers move on auto-pilot - when I'm so into a story that I lose all track of time. THAT is why I write. The potential publication would just be icing on top. But the cake is the writing process, itself.
Rejection is universal. It's going to happen, if you're putting yourself out there -- in life, in the publishing world. But it's how you handle that rejection that matters most, I think...