My first rejection letter, circa 2009

Sunday, November 17, 2013

In 2008, the year before writing Girl Saves Boy, I wrote an epic road trip novel that featured four narrators. It was titled Running With Scissors, before I realised that was the name of a well-known memoir and film. The opening line was Death reeked of cheap perfume when we met. It was... melodramatic. Which is to say, incredibly terrible. I was fourteen! Didn't we all submit novels about amnesia, teenage pregnancy and arson to publishers when we were fourteen? Okay, maybe not.

I submitted it to two publishers. I did not really expect a response, and if I did get one, I knew it would in all likelihood be a form letter. This was okay with me! I expected I'd be super disappointed, but that this would be the first of many rejections, and I had to get used to it. Eventually my manuscript did show back up from one of the publishers, but not with a form letter.

I wrote a blog post after receiving it, saying:
I received back my manuscript from a publisher yesterday, with a very kind rejection letter and almost an entire page of feedback, which must have been very time-consuming to write, which I am infinitely appreciative of. If she’s reading this (which she probably isn’t, because I imagine she’s very busy and important), I want to say thank you. It means a lot to me.

It was disappointing, but not as much as I thought it would be. I know I can keep writing and submitting and eventually it will pay off. I’ve got the advantage of starting very young. I know I have a lot to learn as a writer. Who’s mastered anything but Halo 3 by the time they were fifteen? (Or for older readers of this blog, Space Invaders.)

This letter made a big difference to me. I felt incredibly hopeful going forward. The publishing industry did not seem enormous and faceless and mean. I had a rejection letter! Like a real writer! I had feedback! From an actual editor! I was amazed that a super busy person who likely read a hundred mediocre manuscripts a week actually bothered to do this.

So, this is just to let you know that 'kind rejection letter' is not always an oxymoron. Here's that letter (identifying details all removed, hence all the white space): 
My first rejection letter, 2009
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