Returning from Hoth and the Mother of All Rejections
It had been five months since the too-big-and-cold-for-me RWA conference. I’d recuperated slowly and had settled into a pretty good writing routine. Within a month after the conference, most of the agents and editors had responded to my pitch. All were passes. At the time, it was a common occurrence that a no response after three months was simply a rejection. Not a big deal. This is the business of writing.
The day after Thanksgiving, I was eager to make my sandwich with a heaping pile of leftover turkey and real cranberry sauce. I scanned my messages and received an e-mail from an unknown person.
I wasn’t familiar with anyone with this name and truly…a picture of my favorite backyard nester popped in my head. Due to my exaggerated fear of computer viruses, I almost deleted the message but something caught my attention. So like a little bird, I read it.
I recognized the publisher, but the editor’s name was completely unknown to me. I assumed it was a rejection letter from the one pitch in New York left unanswered.
I had saved up for my trip to RWA for a long time. It was a career opportunity that came with a big price tag, but it was worth it. With one book published and another one on the way, I was seasoned. The manuscript that I pitched was another series opener and one that had been thoroughly vetted. My expectations were realistic. I wanted to get this project out there and hoped to nab some attention. With the monies I put out for the conference, I was sure that I was pitching a complete and polished manuscript.
What the editor sent to me during the holiday weekend was a long personalized rejection letter accusing me of writing a rape joke. What? A rape joke? I didn’t even know how to define a rape joke, much less write one. I was utterly confused and shattered.
The manuscript that I had pitched in New York is a caper that bounces around the world of contemporary art. It’s a romantic adventure with an uptight curator and a reclusive sculptor. There’s not a whole lot of time for sex. So how anyone could read a rape joke in it was beyond me. I was shocked.
When I asked the editor about the location of the alleged “rape joke” to alleviate my confusion and fix it, the response was quick. Within twenty minutes the editor responded. The “rape joke” turned into a “rapey feel.” I was also coached. The editor added that I shouldn’t take this comment personally. I later learned that this New York editor had not bothered to read my manuscript.
On that day, the writing business and the business of writing broke me. I lost my appetite for my turkey sandwich and returned to Hoth. My writing mojo froze.
The despair lingered. My words haven’t been so free-flowing since last Thanksgiving.
Thankfully, spring came along and the Chicago North RWA held the Spring Fling Conference. Pictured is a group of spectacular women that have fed and nurtured me as a romance writer from the get-go. They are members of the Wisconsin RWA—WisRWA.
These spectacular ladies inspired me to get up, put my shoes back on and start dancing. The conference reminded me why I write. That it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a soul-searching journey that takes time. That romance is the good stuff that people need in tough times and there is truly power in romance.
I’m relieved to be back near the warm glow around my keyboard again.