Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Like a Band-Aid - Right Off!

I know this is my blog quote for today, but it bears repeating...

"After rejection—misery, then thoughts of revenge, and finally, oh well, another try elsewhere." - Mason Cooley

Kinda poignant considering yesterday.

There I was typing furiously on my WIP when I happened to reach a pause point, and what I do when I reach those points is... you guessed it... check my email.  Here's how that went...

Wow I have an email in my Agent box. I open my Agent box, but for some reason it's sitting on the last email I read and not the new one.  I can see who it's from but not what it says yet.  Okay cool, this guy who everyone on QueryTracker seems to get immediate helpful feedback from has written me back.  Of course that thought occurs to me and then I immediately get nauseous.

What if it isn't as good as everyone else has gotten?  But I make myself open it anyway, because what the hell else am I doing this for, right?  If you never open mail because you're afraid of rejection, you'll never get the acceptances.  So, I opened it...

And it was bad.

Misery.  And thoughts of ice cream sundaes danced in my head.  The sweet siren song of something gooey and chocolatey and carmely - maybe with crushed cookie bits...  But I digress.  Needless to say, I felt like dog doo.  Especially since there I was, actually writing in the middle of the day of my own free will.  I was being a good little writer.  Besides, what he said was just mean.  And so wrong.  I mean, who the hell does this guy think he is???

Thoughts of Revenge.  Or in my case, getting pissed.  (Angry for those of you in the UK, not drunk.  Although that was a thought at the time.)  I whipped myself into a fine fury.  All thoughts of sundaes danced away.  I did what any fifth grader would do in a situation like this.  I said "Oh yeah, well I'll show you."  And I immediately whipped out a new query letter, showing him exactly why his estimation of my work was so damn wrong.  After all, he was basing his whole damn decision on the query letter for petesakes...

Which meant he wasn't condemning my work.  He was condemning the version of my work I offered him in those 250 words.  And he was right.

The moral of this story and, I hope, the happy ending is that the query letter I churned out in my little melodrama is ten times better than my old letter.  (Yes, I've had outside objective confirmation of this, so don't think I'm going off half-cocked.)  It will be going out in today's round of queries.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

And to the above agent (who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons)... Thank you.  You were blunt and to the point, and while your words might've stung like ripping a band-aid off a particularly hairy patch of skin, in the end they helped me.

To the agents who're still considering that other letter, the story really is better than that lame ass thing represents.  So, I'd really appreciate it if you gave me a shot.  Read my work and then decide.

P.S. The above is an example of something we all could do when we get what we feel are hurtful comments.  Blow off steam, vent to a friend, and then ask ourselves if the comment really was hurtful.  Sometimes the most hurtful comments are pointing to things we need to change.

Have you ever gotten a hurtful comment that in retrospect was actually helpful?

And for your reader pleasure, hop on over to my other blog Tabula Rasa where I've posted the first three pages of Dying Embers and see what All The Hubbub is about.

* Bonus points if you can name the sitcom I got this post title from.


  1. Wow! I'd have to say most of my rejections came as standard form replies (or more often as no reply at all). I can't recall one ever being mean!

    But was he being mean or just blunt? Sometimes that's hard to determine when you feel like someone just ran a stake through your heart, huh?

    Glad you saw past it and made your query better. Good luck in your search for an agent!

  2. So sorry about the stinging response, but it shows how strong and resiliant you are that you're able to take from it what's useful, and move on. Good for you!

  3. Yuck! I'm glad you were able to make some use of it, though. I didn't realize agents had time for that kind of crud anymore!

  4. He was just being blunt, Stacy. I like blunt - I just wasn't prepared for it in a rejection letter. LOL

    Thanks, Lydia. If this was me five years ago, I'd still be a cringing puddle of loathing.

    Eh, it wasn't crud, Alexia. I think he was honestly trying to be helpful and I took it wrong. Which was good, I guess, since it got me off my complacent ass. ;o)

  5. "Blunt and to the point" is fine with me too. What I can't abide is rudeness for no reason. Just unprofessional. No-one deserves that for their heartfelt efforts. I don't think that the fact someone took a lot of effort to be rude (as opposed to a blanket rejection) cuts the mustard either! Do as you would be done by, is a good standard to operate by, for everyone.