If you’re in the writing game, you’ve got them. They weigh a ton, those form letters, graciously declining your novel, screenplay, chapbook, self-help book. They’re the letters that swing through your mailbox, hitting you in the gut like a sledgehammer. No, they don’t want your precious creative offspring, no matter how much time and love you’ve poured onto its pages. But there’s a positive side to this emotional and creative devastation.
Rejection letters mean you’re trying. It means you’ve completed a work and have hoinked up a bucket of courage and are putting yourself out there. And you deserve something for that. A little perk, a way to realize that despite the pain of the rejection letters, you’re actually doing very well, thank you.
If you’re sprightly lucky, someone has written a personal note regarding your piece. Something beyond the platitudes about your possible success elsewhere. Something that you can hang on to. No, not the “pacing was slow and wandering” part. (I cling to that enough, playing with it like a Rubik’s cube in the middle of the night, trying to puzzle out what the agent was really saying.) It’s the other stuff, the good stuff.
“Your novel’s detailed, moody descriptions set the tone for the setting and time so well, and Lily is an engaging and lovable protagonist.”
The good stuff. It deserves its own line. Here’s what I suggest.
If you’re gleaning rejection letters, congratulate yourself for even trying. Then start culling out those kind gems, no matter how small they may seem. Put them all in one file. Use quotation marks and attribute the quotes to the agency or publisher who rejected you.
Voila – a lovely testimonial sheet for when you feel dejected about the future life of your baby. Post it where you can see it and remember that your work is good. Don’t give up.
Oh, and the testimonial sheet will make you feel quite smug when your work does get published. You can feel sorry for all those people who didn’t embrace your work the first time around.