Along the road to becoming a successful novelist, every writer bumps into a set of unavoidable potholes, one of the most devastating being rejections.
Of course, those depressing replies will always come — worse, in dozens. It doesn’t matter how many months or years it took you to write and polish your manuscript. And sometimes it doesn’t even matter how good and refined you are. If you doubt that, ask J. K. Rowling. You’d be daunted by the number of rejections she received before the sun smiled on her first Harry Potter book.
But how do you handle the disappointment?
Yesterday, I was reading up on tropical rain forests. Do you know why they have little undergrowth, despite their luxuriance? That’s because there is competition among the trees. Each tree longs for sunlight — photosynthesis. They hope. They aspire. Just like writers.
But then, when one falls on the chainsaw of one of those advocates of desertification, all that would be left of its years of growth is a stump. More like an aspiring writer who persevered for months or even years and hammered out a good story, only for his hopes to be hacked down by shedloads of rejections.
Should he/she linger in the disappointment?
The good news is most trees — the tough ones — wouldn’t. And for their stumps to push forth shoots anew, they need fertile soil, rain, and sunlight.
So when your manuscript is pelted with rejections, be mindful that your imagination is still fertile; that you have the sun — better still, the stars — to look up to; that with more experience and information, you can water your story ideas until they are better stories that would gnaw at editors’ attention.
So, quit beating yourself up. Query more agencies and publishers. And most of all, keep writing. And you may yet stand tall like one of the buttress-rooted giants of the tropical rain forests.