I got my first rejection from my first real live agent last week. It was kind of fun in a morbid way. I mean, on the one hand it was a rejection, which sucks, but on the other hand, it means that I actually had something (in this case my young adult novel “Lost Angels”) for him to reject; this in and of itself is a pretty thrilling thing.

The fact that I didn’t effortlessly slip out of the birthing canal and swoop into a world of success and acceptance is no shocker. You’re talking about a woman who spent 25 hours in labor and pushed out a lovely but deeply squished baby with the help of some kind of newfangled version of a toilet plunger and two doctors, while both best friend and husband each clamped desperately down on one of two spongy bloated legs.

The very notion that things should come easy and smooth is so foreign to me that it’s just about laughable. Let’s just call my labor a metaphor for my whole life and save ourselves some time.

If you take the laws of attraction into consideration, my attitude and expectations are probably not a help.  Then again, the laws of attraction are nice, and we can all agree that being positive goes a long way, but honestly, I think that theory is horse shit. I reserve the right to blog in-depth about that later, but for now I’ll leave it at that.

Again, probably not helping myself but there you go.

Nevertheless, the rejection was appealing to me for a couple of reasons:

One, I can get with a little struggle. I come from an entitled family, and it doesn’t seem to serve anyone, really.  I always learn from my wrestling matches with the universe, and as of this moment, I still really have no idea what the hell is going on in the world of writing, so it only seems right to have to pay my dues.

And two, it was kind of a great rejection. I hope they’re all so nice. I was lucky enough to have Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency read my novel, thanks to my mentor, Sharon Darrow, who did NOT dump me when I stopped paying her, as most would have. I know what a privilege a full read is, considering my greenness. And, although I hear rumors that he is an unforgiving and brutally honest hard ass, Mr. Goldblatt was pretty complimentary. Provided his rep is not all bark, I should be as happy as I am.

He did give me pause, though. He said that although he thinks I’m talented and he likes my book, my overall tone was too adult, and there was too much sex and violence to place in the YA market.

Oh, no.

I wrote this book for teenagers from day one. Maybe it’s a testament to my Taos, New Mexico adolescence, where people flail off the side of the road and die all the time, and homicide abounds- not to mention the rampant drug use and flagrant sexuality among the youth -that has tainted me and made me unfit for the young minds of today. I’ll allow that not everywhere is as magically delicious and dangerous as Taos.  Maybe I have been ruined and my perspective is off.

But wait, did I not just hear something about blow job parties, bullying so extreme that kids are committing suicide, and incest and rape stats through the roof?  Those are the realities of what teenagers are going through, but people don’t want kids to read about that.

As a writer friend of mine says, we’re writing for the adults who decide what teenagers should read. She regularly receives hate mail, which she says goes mostly, “Blah blah, inappropriate for the inappropriate blah.”

So now I have to wonder, is this going to be the insurmountable obstacle that I have to add to the fact that I have no MFA, no experience, and no idea what the hell I’m doing? Or am I actually going to have to rewrite it and take out the sex, tone down the harshness?

I guess it’s nice to be able to say I’m controversial, so I don’t
have to think the damn thing is just worthless. I don’t think I could face that.
I started a folder called “rejections”. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to put in it, but hopefully one day, I’ll look back and smile over my strenuous labor that finally births my novel. Even if it does get a little squished in the process.

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3 Responses to Rejected!

  1. Eliam says:

    Funny about rejections. I get a lot of them. Every time I hope against them, I believe that they will not find me, and they almost always do, and I too wear them as a badge of honor (although I fear this can be taken too far and become harmful). I also have a folder, that I have had long time and so it is pretty full, but latly I get rejected by cell phone, or worse by silence and there is nothing to put in my folder.

    However, recently I was thumbing though my files, and I saw my rejection folder, fat and proud, by my vehicle registration and an empty file marked recipes, and I did stop a moment to feel chuffed. It’s a good folder to have, it recognizes that failure is, and will be, a constant intimate. The following is a poem by Bukowski, who was a better writer than I hope be. I bet you like it too.

    Roll the Dice
    by Charles Bukowski

    if you’re going to try, go all the
    otherwise, don’t even start.

    if you’re going to try, go all the
    way. this could mean losing girlfriends,
    wives, relatives, jobs and
    maybe your mind.

    go all the way.
    it could mean not eating for 3 or
    4 days.
    it could mean freezing on a
    park bench.
    it could mean jail,
    it could mean derision,
    isolation is the gift,
    all the others are a test of your
    endurance, of
    how much you really want to
    do it.
    and you’ll do it
    despite rejection and the
    worst odds
    and it will be better than
    anything else
    you can imagine.

    if you’re going to try,
    go all the way.
    there is no other feeling like
    you will be alone with the
    and the nights will flame with

    do it, do it, do it.
    do it.

    all the way
    all the way.
    you will ride life straight to
    perfect laughter,
    it’s the only good fight there is

    • Estelle Marchasin says:

      Like? I love! And you know, Eli, you have so much to say. What you wrote me qualifies as a blog post. Please, you’ve been doing this so long, it would be amazing to know some of what goes on in that noggin. Just sayin’.
      Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  2. Bob says:

    I did sales for many years. There is a philosophy in sales that says; “every no gets you closer to a yes”. Sylvester Stallone was offered $20,000 for Rocky at a time when he really could have used the money (so says Anthony Robins). He held out and eventually made millions from it. Rack up those rejections, it’s part of the process.

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