Wednesday, May 5, 2010

If You're a Writer and you Submit, Rejection Doesn't Stop at Any Stage... (To be sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It."

Hey y'all.

I loved this post from YA author Lisa Schroeder. If you're like me, when you see Lisa Schroeder, you say to yourself, "Now she's got it made."

But her post shows that even after three stellar books, she still gets rejected.

I remember back in "the day" (you know, that one day I realized I was ruined for traditional jobs, and so I decided to make money by my pen... which, as it turns out, would've only happened if I sold said pen, but anyway. Where was I? Oh yeah... ) Back in the day, I used to think if I could only get an agent, then my path would be made, and just like that Michael Jackson video, my steps would light the way.

Flash forward a short ten years later, I got my first agent (after something like 92 rejections. I'm not exaggerating. If I were exaggerating, I'd say 486, because whenever I exaggerate, the number is always 486.) Anyway, I had an agent. I'd made it. Looking back, I have no idea what exactly I'd thought I'd made. Perhaps a big pile of goo? I don't know.

Anywho, after a short year and a half of revisions, and a bunch of submissions, and a plethora of rejections, and a smattering of no replies, my "making it" resembled a big fat zero.

Subsequently, I stuffed that big fat zero, painted it donut-color, and hung it above my fireplace over a painting of a glass of milk. 

Some people get inspiration out of rejections. Stephen King used to nail his to the wall. I prefer mine to elicit happier thoughts, like daydreams of donuts and milk. Because twelve and a half years of the daily vein-tapping-that-is-writing should be worth something more than a big fat zero, right? I should at least get a wall-hanging that resembles a pastry. 

Or, better yet, a gold star, telling me I've almost made it.

Well, stupid Star, it just so happens I can't paint, except to draw a house. And I don't know why you're getting all snippy, Star, because at least I have an agent. And the agent author relationship lasts for eternity, because it's true love. And true love frakkin' conquers all!

Oh yeah, Star? I'll show you. I'm going to write a second book. And it's going to be better than the first one, because-

How do you know he thinks that?

Right. Tell me, just what does a Golden Star eat for lunch?

Listen, Star, I'm taking this new book, and I'm gonna query, and I'm gonna find an agent, and we're gonna take off like a rocket ship!

You know what, Star? I found a fabulous agent, who loves the new book. And I had multiple offers.

Suck it, Star.

I guess my whole point is, I think rejection is a constant for writers, and it never stops no matter what stage you are at in your career. Except maybe for Stephenie Meyer. But how many of us are Stephenie Meyer? Unless there's some weird alternate universe thing going on, I'd venture a guess that just one of us is Stephenie Meyer.

But here's the silver lining: It's a good thing we write for the pure joy of it. Otherwise, those stars would turn into Chinese Stars, and impale us all with their sharp points.

Not good enough? Here's another silver lining: At least you'll have something to blog about.

Still not impressed?

How about I throw in a set of steak knives? And a t-shirt that says, "How many times do I have to push this effing rock up this effing hill?"

I heart Sisyphus.
Kill the Fluffy White Bunnies and then go write!


  1. Wait, you're telling me getting an agent wasn't my golden ticket to Stephenie Meyerdom???? Why the crap didn't someone tell me that until now!?! Ha ha, jk. ;-) Rejection really is a way of life for an author, isn't it? Even after you have a publishing deal the readers still can "reject" your work. Sigh. Good thing we love writing so much. He he.

    Now, where do I get the knives and t-shirt?

  2. Sara- They're in the mail. With a "Get out of Jail, Get Published Free" card. :)

  3. I love this post. Do all rejections from agents come with a gold star? Because I'm still working hard so I can someday qualify for my first rejection. As an author. I've already been rejected as a missionary (Slam!), as an actress (which is why my undergrad emphasis was in directing), and as a public defender ("What if I got a real lawyer? Would HE be able to make this charge go away?"). I think most rejections are funny... but I did SO want to be an actress!

  4. ... and now I've been rejected by the "email follow up comments" checkbox... which didn't simply intuit what I wanted and check itself. Stupid checkbox.

  5. Robin- My computer rejects me every day. Usually it's the "word verification" part. Stupid, swirly letters.

  6. Your post made me laugh, and then sing Twinkle Twinkle a gabillion times because Jonah saw the stars. Also, I first read Sisyphus as Syphilis.

  7. Heather- You know me. I love syphilis.

  8. Nothing says progress than Sisyphus! I would love that t-shirt I feel like him currently. Rejection?? I just got my hours hacked at work (thank you economy) because so many firms are competing for what few jobs there are. Sadly, those gold stars don't just haunt writers...I'm threatening mine with those steak knives! =)

    However, thank you for the laugh, it was appreciated and needed!

  9. Thanks for the shout out. :)

    I have never understood the whole - hang your rejections on your wall thing. Do people want to live in misery? I like the idea of a piece of art resembling a donut much better. Or actually, how about just real donuts? Whenever you're feeling depressed, grab one and voila, donut induced happiness.

  10. Una- Sorry about your hours. Feel free to sic Sisyphus on your boss. :)

    Lisa- Thanks for reading! I loved loved your post. It was way more inspiring than mine.

    And I'd rather have donuts than rejection reminders any day. Of course, if I had an actual donut for every rejection I received, I'd be a very large woman.

  11. Awesome post :) I would say something funny but I am all tapped out right now. I have an urge to go bunny hunting and blow them to bits with a giant shot gun with hollow point bullets. I want their blood and guts to explode all over my face so I can smear it into war paint. I want to eat their entrails for lunch...raw. I want to hear them squeal for mercy - their cries of terror echoing in my mind in the still of the night to lull me to sleep. And I want their tails cut off of their asses and strung into a necklace (preferable one that looks smashing with a little black dress!)

    Die. Die. Die Bunny.

  12. You rejected me countless times until you could no longer deny my metrosexiness. I still have the note you sent me that you were not interested in going on a date with me "Please let me alone you crazy stalker or I will call the cops!!!!"

    It was cute, but persistence payed off for me! Now, we live happily ever after except for the countless neighbors who reject us in our quest for finding friendships.

  13. hehe "Suck it, Star." Brodi, when we were growing up, how did I miss the fact that you are riotously funny?! Or is that what you went to college for, to get your funny-learnin' on? Though, it does seem to me that real, genuine funny is something that can't be taught, right?

    Either way... you're funny. :) Here's to eternal optimism! Frankly, I think it's called "eternal" optimism for good reason, because you are so right - rejection/failure never really stops in life, and therefore neither does the need to be hopeful about the next potential great success. It's a lesson we're all better off learning sooner rather than later.

  14. Cam- Whoa. I thought you said you were tapped out of funny? :)

    Sam- Your metrosexiness is like Teflon to rejection! So are your lycra shorts.

    Kristen- I hid my funny when I was a kid. And then I went to clown college, where they surgically exposed my funny again.

  15. Frakkin', huh? That there sounds like Battlestar Galactica fanspeak to me. Are you going to admit it?

    Also, I don't know why gold stars should have all the impaling fun. I mean, really, self-esteem wrecker by day, assassin by night? I think you need to find its weak spot (do gold stars have jugulars?) and go in for the kill.

  16. I think we need to take that start of yours and chuck where the sun doesn't shine. And, for that matter, where the moon and stars don't shine either. Yeah, like a black hole or something. That will show it!

    I think that if you can optimistic after what you've been through, then you've already "made" it. I realize that it's hard to be optimistic with so many rejections all the time and I realize that strengthening one's character isn't always what one looks forward to. But, in the end, I think it's a good thing. (Wow, I'm turning into Martha Stewart!)

    I'll write your agents and various publishers telling them that you need to be published because you're THAT awesome. ;)

  17. Kaylie- I proudly wear my Battlestar Galactica Fandom on my sleeve! And yes, gold stars have jugulars, but they bleed hopes and wishes. It gets all over the place.

    Jenni- Get that letter in the mail!

  18. So. Awesome. I must start writing to enter this world with talking stars.

  19. I love the gold stars. And I'm so happy that you found a new agent who gets your book because I don't think it should be a funny book.

  20. I guess I'm in the writing for the joy of it deal, because when I'm writing I'm laughing at myself. Whether it's because I'm funny or because I know the rejections are to come I dont know. :)

    Remind me never to make friends with gold stars. Apparently they get real mean when they're crazy. Haha.

  21. Melissa- In my world, every inanimate object talks. It's not a happy world. Inanimate objects can be so testy.

    Jenilyn- I tried to be funny. Really I did. My attempt just came out dark and humorless.

    Debbie- Laughing at myself is my raison d'etre.

  22. Your time will come, Brodi. Any day now. If only we could see into the future...

  23. Actually, I definitely most especially appreciate getting some healthy doses of writer reality from your blog. If ever I dare to dive in, at least I know what's in the pool. And I still appreciate being able to turn to your blog for a humorous spot in the day - even if it all came from that mean gold star.

  24. Awesome, Brodi. You rock and you're funny while you're doing it.

  25. Oh man that was good.

    And since I'm Chinese, _all_ my stars have pointed ends. ::laughs then cries::

    Surfed over from your friend Mary Campbell's blog!

  26. Heids- That's what I'm here for... to splash cold water in the faces of writers everywhere. :)

    Keersten- Thanks, girlfriend.

    52 faces- Thanks for finding the blog! Hope you come back again.