I'd been waiting nearly six weeks. I'd tried not to let my hopes get up, but it was my first query, ya know? Every night--who are we kidding--every few hours I'd check my in box, wondering if they'd responded. Then I'd check the Spam folder, and any other folder the e-mail could have possibly been filtered to. Just in case I'd inadvertently missed the acceptance letter, and the agent was waiting for me to respond.
No such luck.
You can imagine my open-mouthed surprise when I discovered a response tonight in my inbox. I'd been closing down my work computer and it was there. Poof! Just like that.
I read the e-mail. Then I read it again.
The agent was really quite kind, for a rejection letter.
I sank back into my office chair and stared at the screen, waiting for the burn of embarrassment to rush to my face. Or a pit of shame to form in my stomach. After all, I had not meeting this agent's expectations. What other emotion is there after a rejection? But shame and embarrassment didn't come. That, of all things, is what shocked me the most.
I dissected my emotions, or lack thereof, while driving home, but I was still clueless when I walked through my front door.
I relayed my rejection to my daughter and she asked, "What are you going to do now?"
What was I going to do? My story had been rejected. Am I not as good a writer as I thought? Maybe I was right to doubt.
I recalled an article I'd read before I'd even considered publishing. The writer ranted about how they had a 1 in 10,000 chance of being published traditionally. I remember thinking, "I guess that means I need to send out 10,000 queries. Thank goodness we have e-mail instead of snail mail."
To my daughter I said, "I guess that means I have 9,999 queries to go."
Of course, it's more than that. I'm pretty sure I know what I need to cut, and where I lost this agent in my story. I lost her at the vanity scenes I'd kept because I wanted them, not because they furthered the story.
I'd submitted this story because it was good enough to be published, but knowing it wasn't my best work. Now, I will go back and re-write it, not to be good enough, but so readers will fall in love with my characters the same way I have.
Am I going to stop doing queries? Nope. Look at the incredible morsels of knowledge I learned from one rejection. Imagine how much I could learn from several. Besides, the more rejections I get, the closer I am to my goal. Only 9,999 to go!