Writing is empowering. I rearrange the universe to my liking. Houses, schools, entire cities grow from my imagination. Skunks ride in strollers, pigs run rampant in high schools, a beauty queen rethinks her priorities. My protagonists conquer their fears and grow braver and stronger. They banter with guys in ways I never could as a teen.
Writing is also humbling. Seven YA manuscripts piled up rejections before Fairest of Them All was published in 2009. Those seven stories were thoughtfully plotted, written, rewritten, re-rewritten, and proofread with fanatical care. I read stacks of books, studied manuscript formatting and market guides, targeted my submissions. And fell flat on my face
The most frustrating part of those failures was the mystery. “Your manuscript isn’t right for our list.” Why isn’t it right? What should I do now?
That changed when Rosemary Stimola became my agent in 2005. (Eternally grateful for her!) The rejections still arrived, but now they came with a “why.” I no longer had to call on my pitiful psychic powers to figure out what editors wanted. Not that they all criticized the same thing, but it was rejection with a direction.
|Sharelle, Me, Rebecca, and Eileen|
Early in 2012 I finished a YA I’d been working on for two years. After my writing group (Sharelle Byars Moranville, Eileen Boggess, and Rebecca Janni—Heaps of eternal gratitude!) gave me their input, I sent the manuscript to Rosemary.
And got it back. Rosemary and her assistant Allison Recheck (Who’s been added to my eternally grateful list!) had issues with the story. Lots of issues requiring lots and lots of rewriting.
Disappointing. Overwhelming. Frustrating. Absolutely necessary. Made me stretch as a writer. Tap into my creativity. And write a stronger, punchier, more compelling story.
Am I a fan of rejection? Definitely not. But rejection has helped me grow into a better writer. And that’s a reason to be grateful.
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