Wednesday, February 9, 2011
You are a Reject.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are a reject.
You've been rejected by agents and editors alike. Rejected by teachers, by pretty women/men in the bar, by friends and lovers and future friends and lovers.
You've been rejected because, quite frankly, you're just not good enough.
You're too fat. Too skinny. Too tall. Your story's too long. Too short. Your character's not active enough. They're too active. They need to switch genders. They're too cynical. They're too upbeat. They're not real. You're not real. Your story's just not "real" enough.
You pour your heart and soul onto the pages of your books. You spend years perfecting each chapter. You kiss it and send it off into the world, where some naiive intern stamps a big red NO on it and sends it back with coffee stains and four missing pages.
You're hurt. You're pissed. You want to seek revenge with flamethrowers and rabid ninja squirrels.
But you can't. Because you're a reject.
But things get better. You get an agent. Things are great! But they aren't. Because you've got to revise. But that can't damper your mood! You sit up tall, pound out revision after revision, synopsis after synopsis, draft after draft. And you hand it to them, all nice and shiny. You believe in it. Your agent believes in it. You believe in yourself.
But you can't forget: you're a reject. So it'll come back from editors with coffee stains and big red NOs.
It's not good enough. The writing's too dry. The writing's too plain. Your MC's obnoxious. They're not obnoxious enough. You need more action. You have too many fighting scenes. This doesn't work. It'll never work. It's unrealistic, stupid, moronic, anyone could've written this. It's dribble. It's not good enough.
You're not good enough.
Until you are. Because then you find true love. An editor! You're happy. Your agent's happy. Your editor's happy. Everybody shares cake and muffins and rainbow ponies because we all believed you could do it and you did it and yay! And then you revise. With new vigor. You write and rewrite and read and reread because it has to be perfect. Because you have to be perfect.
You're no longer a reject. Because you aren't. Because you made it.
Except you are, and you didn't. Your book's on the shelves and people love it, except for the people who don't. And they won't. They don't get it. They don't like your love interest. They hate your point. They don't agree with the subtext you never wrote. Your plot is perdictable. People are reviewing it on Amazon and your stars dwindle by the day.
You're a reject.
Except when you really make it. And this time it's real. You've got a movie deal! You're a bestseller! They're teaching your books in college classes! You're a legend! You wear turtlenecks and square glasses because you are an artist. You made it. You're accepted. Past lovers and friends are begging to have you back in their lives. Of course, you won't let them. Because now they are the rejects. Now they know how it feels.
Except you're still a reject.
Because the kids in those classes hate your book. They'd rather torch the pages than sell it back to the school. Literary snobs discuss the poor quality of your worldbuilding over wine. Nasty emails pile up in your mailbox from groups who think they're offended by your prose.
And you're a reject again, because you always were.
Except when you're not. Because maybe, you weren't. Maybe, even though things are hard, and you've got no mythical movie deal or snobby turtleneck or editor or agent and it's just you, the reject, sitting at your computer and counting your rejections as they pile and pile and never end. Maybe even though you're none of these things and all of these things, it's okay.
Because accept it: you're a reject. I'm a reject. We're all rejects. We're too skinny, too fat, too tall, too literary, too genre-y, too this, too that.
We're rejects. Rejected and rejected and rejected and rejected. And maybe that's okay.
Because you there, the reject, you'll pick up your socks. You'll look over your piles of NOs from those silly agents and interns and editors and you'll say "No" right back. You'll say, "This won't stop me. I'm THE Reject. I'm the ultimate Reject! I've been said no to in every language, every way, every font and gosh darn it, that's not going to stop me!"
So you put the rejections aside. You pin them on your walls because you are the Reject. These NOs are battle scars. They hurt and ache with old pain but you are the Reject, and this won't stop you.
So you'll rewrite your query and rewrite your book. You'll make your MC more active, more passive, more sarcastic, less edgy, more this, more that.
And it STILL won't satisfy them. And you'll write another book, and another, and another. And you'll get better, and you'll get more praise, and you'll get more rejections. And you might pass a landmark or two, and you'll keep pushing onwards. And it's hard, but it's okay, because you're always learning, always getting better, and each day is a new day. You're a new you. You're a new Reject.
Because no matter what you do, or see, or write, or taste, or look, or draw, or feel, or say, or scream, or smell, or fling, or dance, or cry, you'll always be the Reject.
And as long as you keep going, keep pushing on, you'll be okay.
Because it's when you stop. When you quit. When you surrender. When you GIVE UP, that you've rejected yourself.