Sometimes a rejection can sting a little.
Sometimes a rejection can bum you out.
And sometimes a rejection can hurt so bad that you cry for a whole day and you consider moving into a cabin in the woods where you'll never have to face disappointment ever again.
This is the story of my worst rejection.
About a year ago, I signed up for a writing conference and shelled out 40 bucks for a professional critique of my first 10 pages. Now, this wasn't just any ol' critique with any ol' professional. Nope, I was going to have my excerpt workshopped by a big-time New York editor! Suffice to say, I was really excited to meet this woman. Really, really, really excited.
Right before my critique began, I smoothed my hair and took a big breath. My heart thudded in my chest and my fingers felt numb, but I made myself think positively. After all, the editor couldn't hate my excerpt, right? I mean, I already had it workshopped by my critique group and I'd received a glowing review from a published author at another conference. No, there was absolutely no way that the editor could hate it...
When my name was called, I forced a smile on my face and took a seat next to the fabulous editor who would surely see my talent and request to see a full manuscript. I tried to make small talk, but the editor glanced at her watch and said she was running behind schedule. Could we dive straight into the critique, please?
I nodded and politely listened as she commented on my plot, my dialogue, and my characterization. She advised me to fix this and to change that. She told me this part was too cliche and that part was too confusing. She tore apart my first chapter and then my second and then my third. Her mouth kept moving and my heart kept fluttering. Surely, she would have a few good things to say about my manuscript...maybe?
The editor paused. For the first time in five minutes, she looked up from my red-marked excerpt and glanced at me. She gave me a little smile.
"Um," she said in a soft tone. "You really should consider joining a critique group."
That did it. Blood rose into my cheeks. Tears welled in my eyes. But I blinked them away and forced another smile. I managed to nod.
I probably looked quite composed on the outside, but on the inside I felt like this:
When the critique finished, I mumbled a quick 'thank you' and stumbled out of the room. The conference was still going full-blast in the main room, but I couldn't go back in there. So I plunked onto a chair in the hotel lobby and let the tears fall. I really wanted to call my husband, but he was thousands of miles away on deployment. There was no way to reach him.
With my face red and splotchy, I pulled out the brand new journal that I had purchased for the conference and I proceeded to word-vomit onto the page. This is what I wrote:
Should I just quit now? Obviously, my book isn't getting any interest from any agents or editors. The only editor who has read the thing doesn't even think I've read the book aloud or have a critique group. She didn't like it and she doesn't see potential in it. Eh...very discouraged right now. Looks like I will have to scrap this book altogether and write something new.
Then I cried some more. And I gorged myself on the cookie platter.
Looking back now, I realize that the editor was spot-on with her comments. Absolutely spot-on. My manuscript was not up to snuff at this point. It was pretty awful!
Looking back now, I also realize that this rejection wasn't as harsh as I thought it was. But it certainly felt that way at the time! My little heart just needed more time to toughen up.
So that is the story of my worst rejection ever. What's yours?