One day, after a discussion with my friend about manuscript rejections, she said to me, “We are just going to have to keep writing until we get it right.”
Part of me agreed with her until I woke the next morning thinking, Who says we don’t already have it right?
My daughter loves beets and I hate them. Which one of us is right? Or is the beet wrong for tasting the way it tastes? Sometimes, manuscript rejections might merely be an indication that we have not found the right match for our work – the person who will love our beets. Of course, this thought process doesn’t mean that I won’t keep trying to improve my craft. However, it does mean that I have decided not to let other people’s personal tastes make me doubt that I have it right. There are plenty of famous, extremely successful writers who were rejected numerous times before they found the right beet-eater.
I might not like beets, but I love black jellybeans. As far as other jellybeans go, red ones are okay, and green ones? Yuck! It is all a matter of taste for me. I think I would even reject the green ones if I were starving. I could take or leave the red ones. But I cannot resist a black jellybean. I had to taste a lot of jellybeans before I could determine which flavor I like. I had to taste beets before I could learn that I hate them. Who knows what writing flavor an agent or editor will love without first offering them a taste? Yes, we can do our best to research what they like. But sometimes, it is a matter of building a relationship and learning their literary tastes.
In the above image, there are very few black jellybeans.
Like an agent with manuscripts, I would have to reject a lot of colorful jellybeans to get to the flavor I like.
I have a friend who signed with an agent earlier this year. That same agent also rejected my friend’s first manuscript submission, and then another and another and another. My friend kept submitting manuscripts to this agent until she found the story that the agent could not resist. That story must have been a flavor the agent loves. Now, my friend is trying to rewrite the first rejected story to see if she can change the flavor enough to get her agent to take a bite.
I hope if you ever find yourself feeling dejected over a rejection that you will take any critique comments into consideration, but also keep in mind that sometimes rejections are nothing more than a matter of taste. Even the picture book/literary genius, Jane Yolen, gets manuscript rejections. This week, she shared on Facebook that she received a rejection from one of her favorite editors, and she will continue looking for the RIGHT editor for that particular book. To me, the RIGHT editor will be the one that loves the flavor of Ms. Yolen’s book.
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