I’ve had some ups and downs recently with my work — some positive signs about a couple of manuscripts that I worked on, and some rejection as well. Even very small victories do mean a lot to me, as a writer, but the rejections do take a little bit out of me.
Of course, I’m still hunting for the big success. I know I’m getting closer, but I think of all of the little steps forward as little bites, while I’m still trying to land a fish. It’s frustrating, of course, but you can’t get the fish without getting some bites first.
I did get one excellent rejection recently. The editor was positive about the work, but had a list — a long list — of edits she’d want to see; she said she’d look at it again if I took care of those things. They were often very fundamental weaknesses in the story, or issues that were woven throughout the book, and to attack those issues would take some time and effort. I’m going to do it, though. It’s a good book and everything she listed would make it a better book.
But even more encouraging is the fact that I wouldn’t have this list with any of my more recent books, or at least I wouldn’t have a list this long. Part of the problem was that I embarked upon that book without any real idea of what I was going to do; I actually took a four-month hiatus from it — paralysis, really — before I could figure out what to do with the last third of the book.
More recently, I’ve learned to outline my work, so that I don’t have these important characters who are AWOL through most of the book, and I have motivations clearer in my head before I start writing them. I know I also write more quickly with an outline. The trick has been getting the outline at the right level of detail, but I’ve figured out the sweet spot for my writing.
In any case, it’s a good rejection, and the publisher is willing to look at something else I’ve got. I can get used to this kind of rejection… but not too used to it!