Swinging bridges once helped us all cross rivers and streams. They’ve been replaced by concrete spans so that we no longer experience the adrenaline rush of crossing wide, rushing rivers while clinging to a single strand of rope. Maybe we all need to experience the hair-raising excitement of crossing to something new and exciting in our lives and hanging on to a swinging, swaying bridge to get there.
Rejection is not a subject that most of us care to discuss, but in trying to present a writer’s life honestly on this blog, I felt it’s something I should write about.
Over the years I’ve had a few agents, two of which I parted with on friendly terms, the other was taken from me by his early passing. As the publishing industry has changed, so has my career. It can’t be helped sometimes that what we aim for is not what we hit. I still believe in setting goals, acquiring a target and aiming. Sometimes a miss lands us on a better target, sometimes not. So we pick ourselves up and begin over again. Because of some misses, I had come to the conclusion that I didn’t want to deal with an agent any longer, which means that most big houses in NY are closed to my submissions. As I grow older and wiser, I think that is probably a good thing. I no longer desire what those houses offer. I don’t regret once having had a career in New York. In fact, I look back at the experience with a great deal of fondness. The Nineties were a great time for publishing in New York. But they have passed. I’m excited about what is coming in the future for writers, but making the transition is difficult for us “old broads.”
In discussions with other writers, most of us have come to the conclusion that writing what soothes our soul is much more satisfying than writing what someone else is looking for, paying for, publishing. Then, of course, if what adds to that satisfaction is having others read what we write, then it means publication, somewhere, somehow.
Personally, I think what is happening in the small publishing business is getting more and more exciting. Small publishers are cropping up like winter wheat through a lacing of snow. Only recently a good friend and her husband started what they thought would be a printing business. That dream soon turned them toward becoming a small publisher. She has already discovered a writer who has been shunned by larger publishers and is very excited to begin planning promotion for this book. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. It isn’t a done deal, but it is exciting to see someone looking at work such as this particular manuscript, which I have read and wondered at the publishers who turned it down.
I recently heard from Suzanne Woods Fisher, who began her publishing career with a small publisher and has now attracted the attention of a larger publisher. Watch this spot. I will soon host the announcement of her latest book, Copper Fire, a sequel to Copper Star.
My most recent manuscripts lie unpublished, as I continue to search for a home in this ever changing field. Now, I’ll get around to the subject of this blog. Rejection.
A rejection letter from an agent convinced me to stop searching where I am not wanted, nor do I want to be, and begin to look in more suitable places for publication.
Saturday evening I returned from a couple of days attending Ozark Writers League’s quarterly meeting in Missouri where I visited with a lot of friends I hadn’t seen in at least six months. Because of my husband’s recent accident we missed the February get-together. I attended the May meeting eagerly. There are always surprises, good speakers, new friends and old, all writers who understand the life and like to talk about it. Chuck Sasser was one of the speakers and he kept us enthralled, one and all, with his adventures and how he’s learned to live the writer’s life and earn a living doing so. At times during his talk I felt he was speaking directly to me. Live the life you want to live and become an expert on writing about it.
I have only recently decided to do that when I began my latest manuscript. My adventures and experiences during nine years working for a small, weekly rural newspaper. It’s amazing when I look back on it, at the unique, crazy, sometimes dangerous things I did for a story. The more I write about those memories, the more comes back to me that I had all but forgotten. Chuck urged me to continue to write about my expertise because it would bring me more writing opportunities. I can only hope he’s right, but I know this one thing. I am having a wonderful time reliving those nine years. To give you an idea of some of the subject matter, the title is tentatively: Tigers and Snakes and Flying Machines.
Oh, yes, I promised you the rejection story. When I returned home and picked up the mail, there was the rejection. This agent had presented herself to us at OWFI with great enthusiasm and invited queries from us, and I was so impressed, I sent her one, despite my earlier vow I wasn’t going to go through that experience again. My query letter and synopsis didn’t exactly excite her, either. We’re probably both the better off for it. Now, it’s back to my original intent. Find a home for this book in a small press where, when I call them, they’ll know who I am. And care.
Hopefully, this will eventually happen. If not, well, then I’ve been in this business long enough to know that rejection is just a part of the whole. Without it, we aren’t really working writers, for none of the best can say they’ve never received a rejection, even for the best of their works.
Life is good. I have four books available and out there for folks to buy if they so desire. I have two or three more making the rounds. And along the way I have acquired plenty of rejections. I am a writer.