Thursday, January 21, 2016

"Sometimes Favor Means No."

Cara Putman recently blogged about the importance of writing buddies. I was thankful a few weeks ago not only for mine but also for my larger support system in general—those close family and friends—when an agent sent me a rejection email. 

This news is delayed on the blog because the day I received the email was the day Rizzoli ate poison, so I was not exactly focused. It took another day or two for the news to settle in. (I call that God’s grace.) 

But I didn’t reach for the Ben and Jerry’s or spend a day wallowing in my PJs, and honestly, I think that’s because, in a way, God had prepared my heart, and perhaps also because the email was just so…nice. 

It was the nicest, kindest, most considerate rejection email I’ve ever received. And maybe that’s because she’s a Christian too, or maybe it’s just her canned rejection email, but still—so kind. 

The email was not my first rodeo with rejection.   
But academic editors and reviewers are far less kind with their criticisms. On one article I submitted (and later did publish elsewhere), the editor, after several rounds of revisions, decided that he questioned the “validity” of my study. (I wished he had questioned it before encouraging me to make the initial “minor” revisions.)

I’ve also had reviewers say things like, “Even without the above mentioned desiderata concerning scope, argumentation, and style, I do not believe that the paper is fit for a flagship journal in argumentation theory. The submission shows so many and grave errors in formal reliability and academic care that they are too numerous to list in full.”  Or one that I memorized: “Even after reading the submission multiple times I cannot identify substantial academic contributions that go beyond existing rhetorical knowledge.”

That’s Academic-ese for, “This paper has nothing new to offer.” (*sigh*)

Even over the break, my proposal was rejected for the ATTW conference (I’m 0 for 3 with these guys). My favorite line—the one they use every year: The quality of submissions was so high this year, we had to reject a number of good proposals, including yours.

So, I’ve had my share of rejection on the academic side, but the creative fiction side is all new, and I had no idea what to expect.

After the agent told me she couldn’t pursue my project, she gave me a list of other agents who represent Christian authors and encouraged me to send it to someone else.

I thanked her for her considerate email and asked if she had any advice for me as I prepare to send it to someone else I met with at ACFW. She replied that she didn’t—that I was doing everything right, and she ended with, “Don’t give up!” :)

So, I won’t. I wouldn’t have anyway. (Not after learning Charles Martin—New York Times Best 
Selling author and one of my favorites—was rejected 86 times before his first manuscript was published.)

My personal goal is to send it by the end of this month to another agent-hopeful that I met at ACFW, and actually the one I clicked with the most (she had me when she said she was a Gilmore Girls fan). *high five*

I have already learned so much on this journey as an unpublished author, but I am grateful for every second of it—even the days of “no.”

I know that God holds my dreams (even beyond the ones about writing) in His heart, and I can trust Him with them. I don’t have to force them to happen. I don’t have to begrudge the delays. I don’t have to accept rejection as my personal identity.

I know who I am in Christ. And I know how perfect His timeline is.

In the words of Jason Craft, “Sometimes favor means no.” 

What's your rejection experience like?  How do you handle the 'no' from your agent or editor? 

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