Reprocessing Rejection

It happened just the other day.  For the first time, I received a rejection correspondence from a literary agent.  This agent was kind and respectful with her words, but she is not interested in what I have to offer.  The rejection did something surprising to me.  It actually made me beam with happiness. It was one of the best days I have had in a long time. Let me explain why...

I have always known I wanted to be a writer.  If you would have asked me in high school what I was going to do with my life, amidst the teenage attitude you would have uncovered that I wanted to write a great American novel.  I know this dream is not limited to just me, but the dream is very personal for me.  Writing was part of my identity.  I loved using words to express myself.  It came naturally to me and I truly enjoyed the process.  And then something happened.

Derailed

I allowed my dreams to be derailed because of the opinions of other people.  Every time I mentioned writing as a profession I was told writing was a hobby. I heard countless tales of how difficult it was to get published and how unpredictable income would be as a writer.  I processed all of it.  I took it to heart.  When it came time to go to college, I did not take the path my heart was telling me to take.  My brain took over and I made logical choices devoid of passion.  Eventually, I left college and I got a job doing something else.

Truth be told, through all these years, I still dream of writing a great novel.

Back on Track

So, 20 years after working in an unrelated profession,  I met a new friend.  She is an author, and a successful one at that.  She said if I feel like I should be writing, I should write.  So as quickly as that, I started writing again.  She said just do it.  My first draft would be bad. Accept that, just get it down on paper and start moving forward.  So I did. 

After about a year and a half of work (sometimes committed and focused, other times distracted and painstaking) I had a proposal ready to send off to agents.  This is a non-fiction book; not the novel I dreamed of.  But it is a subject matter I believe in and I am proud of what I have to offer.

Doing vs. Dreaming

Several weeks ago, I sent my proposal to nine hand selected agents.  I know this is where the real work begins, but taking that step made me feel accomplished.  I wondered if I would get any response.  And then it happened.  I got a rejection. And you know what.... while people were saying, "oh, I'm sorry", it validated me.  I am no longer a person who dreams of writing but spends all my time working doing something else.  I am a writer trying to get published. I am not talking about writing or thinking about it or dreaming about it. 

I am doing it. I am failing at it, I am learning in the process... and it feels damn good.