'Til Midnight

In an effort not to completely waste my time with my Olympics obsession this last two weeks, I cleaned out file folders as I watched. I made an encouraging discovery in my rejections file. In an uneven but steady progression, the letters have improved with time – from form copies to personal letters, from generic check lists to specific suggestions, from leaving me wondering it the submission was read to referencing specific quotes or concepts in the manuscript.

With a slight diversion, let me answer your curiosity. You were wondering why writers would save rejection letters, weren’t you? One friend has taped hers together accordion fashion and pulls them up to her height when she does school visits to encourage persistence in young students. The most creative use I ever heard for them is the writer who used them for his office wallpaper. That’s too depressing for me, so I stash them in the file folder. And why do I keep them? I don’t know. I keep acceptance letters as well, but they are honored with a place in the folder with the manuscript they helped to sell.

Watching an interview with Meghan Duggan, member of the US women’s hockey team as I worked, I got caught up in her answer to the interviewer about handling loss and disappointment. She said, “My coach says you sit on it ‘til midnight, and then get up and get back to work the next day.”

I had no idea how quickly I would need her advice on rebounding. Friday, I got a “pass” from an agent I had queried. My first reaction, to twist Shakespeare a bit, “A rejection by any other name would smell as bad.” But then I looked again and saw the agent’s apology for the delay in responding because “I’ve been keeping this project in my mind,” and a suggestion that I query one of her colleagues. Could this be like coming in just off the podium?

Meghan Duggan and her team were in the Gold Medal match and won the Silver Medal when they lost to Canada. Not bad at all, but still disappointing. I’m thinking she probably took her coach’s advice, and I think I will, too.  

The Olympics is over. Midnight is past. Excuse me while I get back to work.