Friday, August 19, 2011

Pushing the Button and Falling Down

Hi all! Welcome to another installment of Guest Post Friday! Today I welcome Alexandra Villasante from Magpie Writes. This is also one of the blogs that I've been following for a long time, possibly even from last year. I just love seeing another writer's journey through life and writing, which always makes Magpie Writes a nice stop.

Pushing the Button and Falling Down

I’ll tell you a secret. I may have made a mistake. I don’t know if my manuscript is perfect. I don’t even know if it’s the best it can be. I don’t know if, given a week, a month, a year, I could improve it to the point where it’s ready.

And even though I don’t know, I still pushed the button.

I emailed an agent who had requested the first 100 pages and hit send.

Was it the right thing to do? Should I have waited? Will I get rejected?

I don’t know. Well, OK, I do know the answer to that last one…

Here’s what I do know:

I worked on the revisions for three months. I worked with my crit group and beta readers. I thought and thought and thought until my puzzler was sore.

And then I felt like I came to a precipice, an edge that I had to confront. Jump off or go back. Stop living in the world of ‘maybe one day’ and walk into ‘today’.
The problem with taking that leap of faith is that you kill off every other potential outcome. You can sit at your desk, like I do, thinking of a million different outcomes to when you finally push the button and submit (yuck. Even the word ‘submit’ has humiliating connotations) your manuscript (or query letter). As long as you don’t hit send, all those outcomes are possible.

Once you hit ‘send’ the choice is entirely out of your hands. There will only be one outcome and you can’t do anything more to influence it. That’s what is so frightening and so exhilarating because you put it out there and there’s a chance.

Until you get slapped in the face with the large, implacable ‘R’ for rejection – like I did this morning.

It’s my first one and it stung. Have you ever gotten stung by a wasp or a bee? At first you’re like, “ow.” Then, once the little bastard’s venom spreads it’s like OWWWWWWW.
Then you’re crying into your cornflakes and vowing never to show another soul your work. Thankfully, that part doesn’t last too long.

It’s been an emotional roller coaster all day. I dealt with it by designating the Dark & Stormy (recipe here) as my official Rejection drink and by sending out another query. I also ate almost an entire box of Junior Mints.

I don’t regret pushing ‘send.’ I don’t regret jumping off that precipice. Even falling is better then never even trying to fly. Or did I read that in a fortune cookie?

Thanks again, Alex! I hope that your next jump will have you flying to the stars. 

I'm wondering about my bloggy friends that finished their books. Have you come to that precipice yet? What did you do and how did it work out?


  1. Good for you, taking the leap. The first one's the hardest, I promise. It gets easier. Keep at it!

    Wishing you good luck with your book.

  2. Rejection is a part of the business. Always remember not to take it personally. This is a subjective industry. What one person hates, another may love. And believe me, you definitely want an agent that LOVES your work. Don't settle for like.

  3. Way to get out there! Even with a partial request my finger is hovering over the button. Anyone have super-steel guts to loan me, 'cause mine have run away screaming.

  4. Congratulations on hitting send and getting the R. Congrats on having the guts and courage and I hope you will find it to do it again. Rejection is a rite of passage. Be proud.

    The first one stung a lot. I'd like to say it gets easier. It does. You just keep going, knowing you're far from alone and in very good company.

  5. Thanks, everyone, for making me feel at home on Misha's blog!
    @Isis, thanks for the encouragement, I try to tell me that it's not personal - but why does it have to feel like it?
    @Sarita, I KNOW it won't be the last!
    @Crystal - I am happy to lend you the guts/idiocy (depending on your perspective) to hit send. Despite how awful it feels to be rejected, I can't seem to stop myself from opening myself up to it! I've already queried again, in fact on the same day as my first R. Seemed like the only way to combat it.
    @MPax, thanks for the encouragement. I'm going to try to see it as a badge of honor!

  6. Congratulations on completing your work, on hitting the send button and surviving your first rejection. Now keeping writing.

  7. Completing the first piece must feel amazing...I am NOT there yet! It takes so many tries before the right person reads your work...I say that rather than the right piece of work is written because I really feel that is how writing and publishing works. In the words of a great writer:
    "Congratulations, today is your day. You're off to great places, you're off and away!"
    Gems xxx

  8. If you don't send something you'll never know. At least a rejection from somewhere else is more progress that just continually rejecting your own manuscript.

    I'm not quite to the precipice yet, but I working my way towards it.

    Tossing It Out

  9. Hang in there. I support you and I think I can say that you are in good company. There are a ton of us writers out here getting rejected. /hugs.

  10. Alex is a lot more courageous that I was at that point. I worked and re-worked my manuscript for ages before I thought about sending it out.

    Good on her to get to the point of sending you. I could find a hundred reasons why the ms wasn't ready yet. I got a few rejections, but eventually someone bit. If I hadn't ventured out, I'd still be biting my nails and thinking about whether to send.

    Keep on working and sending. You won't know what's out there if you never take a step.

  11. Alex is a lot more courageous that I was at that point. I worked and re-worked my manuscript for ages before I thought about sending it out.

    Good on her to get to the point of sending you. I could find a hundred reasons why the ms wasn't ready yet. I got a few rejections, but eventually someone bit. If I hadn't ventured out, I'd still be biting my nails and thinking about whether to send.

    Keep on working and sending. You won't know what's out there if you never take a step.

  12. Just because it was rejected doesn't mean it's not ready. The odds are always heavily in favor of a rejection, so don't take it too hard. It happens to us all. *hugs*

  13. And yet we can never succeed if we don't risk failure. Two ends of the same stick. =D

  14. I've sold stuff and not sold stuff and rejection still hurts. Very few people sell everything they ever write--even best-selling authors sometimes get told "no", and most of us get more rejections than we do acceptances.

    You just have to keep on keepin' on. For me, when it gets down to the bottom line, it's all about the WRITING, anyway. Oh, I do love to sell, no doubt about that, but I'd write anyway. Once you realize that, the rejections start to be more irritating than painful, and you send that piece out to somebody else--and somebody else and somebody else and somebody else--until it comes under the eye of someone who says "YES!"

    May it happen soon and often for all of us!

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

  15. good luck for when you hit send again!

  16. You finished this with a really good question!

    In my case, I didn't consider my manuscript ready to send out until I'd done several drafts, including a detailed line edit, and drafts to include structural and clarity suggestions from my beta readers. It was about six months from first draft completion until I felt it was ready.

    Keep in mind that every manuscript will undergo further change at a publisher's instigation once it's sold, so striving for 'perfection' as an absolute isn't realistic. This is a subjective business! What we can do is make sure our MS isn't riddled with bad writing, typos or inconsistencies...

  17. Thanks again, everyone, for the great comments.
    @michael, you're already ready with the hugs, that's what I love about you - *hugs* right back.
    @Marian, it's so true that it's about the writing. I have to keep that in perspective when I get too caught up in this 'other' aspect.
    @Cindy, thanks for the hugs - and that's the hardest thing about rejection, remembering that it's SO subjective.
    While I got my SECOND rejection this week, I also got my THIRD partial request from an agent. Checks and balances, I guess. Best of luck to everyone and thanks so much for 'meeting' me!

  18. I sympathise but as you say, you'll never get accepted if you never submit. I emailed a submission this week and somehow it's all the more final, just one button and it's gone. It somehow feels safer taking an envelope to the post box. Good luck with your next submission.

  19. It all comes down to this: if we don't try, then we won't know. We have to take that step some time.

  20. The creative life starts with rejection. Rejection is the great teacher. Self-absorption
    is not creative. Pour these energies into refining your work according to the guidance of other writers or editors and submit again and again until you have exhausted the possibilities of the work. Or put this work aside and start another. To be creative, you must produce a number of pieces and send them out until one hits someone's bulls-eye. To stay in the kitchen you must take the heat and continue the cooking. If these cliches aren't enough...if you wish to capture the
    interest and attention of a muse, ignore
    her and continue working as if she did not interest you.Give her the big "R" As in real life, she will find you very interesting and captivating. My best.


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