I though that periodically I should speak about writing and reading. Those are after all my two passions. So here I go. Sorry, no pictures today, you pictures junkies, just lotsa words. Hopefully I won't bore you.
I received the loveliest of rejection letters today.
I quote: "Dear Corine,
Thank you for sending your sample chapters--you write wonderfully, with a great rhythm to your sentences. However, I'm afraid that--after discussing this with other members of the office--we came to the conclusion that this is not quite right for us. Still, I hope you will continue writing and sending out your work... etc."
This is so rare, a rejection letter! And a kind and personal one at that. I'll be! I have sent A LOT of query letters to agents and few are those who even sent an acknowledgement of having received it. It used to baffle me. Now I have no expectation. I've grown a skin three inches thick, that's why. And though I look like a Rhinoceros, at least I no longer feel the pain. Agents are not trying to be snooty. It doesn't mean I suck. It's just that they're busy and it's business.
It reminds me of Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather I just read. Whenever a member of the mob gets his throat slashed there is someone who says (New York-Italian accent) "it's not a-personal, it's a-business."
The process of getting a novel published is really an excellent school for life. Nothing is owed to you in this world. You have to work hard, be disciplined, tenacious, methodic and persistent. If you have talent, it a bonus. And even then there is no guarantee. But at least you will have tried, and trying is living. Pursuing a dream, creating, hoping, falling, picking yourself off the floor, that's living. Sitting on your ass lamenting about rejection, failing to take chances, self sabotaging is dying.
Growing up in France, in my family, the notion was that there existed in this world two kinds of people: There were the people with talent, and then there was us. Our family therefore never strived for anything. What was the point? If you were good at something, good. If you were not there was never any concept that hard work could compensate, that hard work, in fact, was the key.
I learned only in the last few years that it was a crock of doo doo. It IS all about hard work. There are a lot of fabulously talented people out there who have never been recognized because they have failed to try, believe in themselves and, basically work their tushies off.
I married the most driven man on the planet (and self proclaimed 'most rejected'.) Observing him was quite a culture shock. Yet I persisted to believe that he worked hard because he was just wired that way and I wasn't.
Well, in the last few years, I have rewired my brain, and I have changed. Now I work hard. And I refuse, absolutely refuse, to let rejections get in the way of my work or spirit. Ultimately, the only rejection that counts is my own. (I didn't write that but I don't know who did.)
My friend Peter Kaufman who's a (damned good and hard working) entertainment lawyer wrote an excellent post on the subject in his blog Deal Fatigue. He talks about how "The continuous, consistent rejection inherent to the profession is bound to erode the motivation and enthusiasm of even the hardiest of thespians."
Let's not do this to ourselves. Better to have failed trying than not to have tried at all.