Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dear Author

Dear Author.  Two words I've grown to hate.  The salutation of rejection.  I open my email and there they are and I know it means not only another rejection, but a form rejection, the impersonal device used by publishers and agents to clear the slush pile decks as efficiently as possible.  I understand.  And I hate it.  I am nobody.  I am "Author."

And yet ... At least I'm that.  I am "author."  The powers that be have called me an author.  But why?  Because I managed not only to write something and, presumably, finish it, but I have had the courage, or chutzpah, or stupidity, to submit it somewhere.  And for this, I am called "author."  I'll bet they say that to all the girls.  Well, they do.

How do they know I deserve that name?  Do they have another form letter somewhere for the even-less-deserving that says "Dear Bozo"?  "Dear Wannabe?"  "Dear WTF?"  No.  They are being polite.  They also thank me.  Seriously?  Are they truly grateful that yet another of thousands has sent them a manuscript they DON'T want?  No.  But they extend us this courtesy, and in doing so, in giving us this title, they bring us to our knees and our humility.  

Thou hast written.  Thou hast submitted.  We dub thee "author" and we thank thee.  Go and sin no more.

We who submit have grown to wear these words as badges of honor.  "How many rejection letters have you collected?"  We look to our heroes and count their rejections like so many notches on the sword, so many battle scars.  Rejection is our penance, our dues, our years in purgatory, the price we pay to earn enlightenment and a place at the table. 

I am "Author."  I come with my shaved head and my begging bowl.  Will you let me in?



4 comments:

  1. I have a huge file of those letters but now I use the delete key.Feels so empowering. Anyway, I've embarked on a self-publishing journey and would love to invite you to visit my blog. You are a follower and I'm having a luau.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the invite to the luau, and good luck on the self-publishing journey. That's a big and brave endeavor.

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  2. I once received a rejection letter that said something along the lines of: "If your story had been as original, humorous and entertaining as your cover letter, we would have published it." Someone told me I should have asked them to publish the cover letter.

    Thanks for the post! I'm sending out some stories now, one for Squaw and a picture book trilogy to three editors. We'll see how this round goes.

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    Replies
    1. I've always thought a personal rejection was better than a form rejection, but your story makes me question that assumption. Good luck on your latest submissions.

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