Friday, May 26, 2006

Why Rejection is Good

Back at the first of the year I sent Outlaw Bride out to HQN who had requested the full after my win in the Toronto Golden Opportunity Contest back in late 2004. Jessica Alvarez was the assistant editor who made the request and while she didn’t ultimately accept it, her rejection letter was both positive and informative. Things to watch for, what she thought needed work, what she liked about it. All in all, it provided a bit of a blueprint of what to watch for while doing the revisions. A big help rather than going in blind and making a muck of things.

So this morning I’m going along reading my manuscript, revising, making little notes and then in Chapter 6 I hit this scene and my first thought is, “What the hell was I thinking? What am I doing here? This is so…so…(I nearly choke on the word)…boring!”

Horrors of horrors. The dreaded “B” word.

I don’t know what possessed me to write that scene the way I did. Or at all. It accomplished nothing, told everything, showed zippo. It was pointless and meandering and no wonder Ms. Alvarez said the pacing needed to be revved up. I nearly fell asleep reading that scene. Probably would have if I weren’t struck so wide-eyed by the stupidity of it all.

Once the shock of it wore off however, I came up with a replacement scene that is filled with action, emotion and usefulness. It covers an array of items I needed to solidify at that point. It also made me realize that two scenes later I needed to change and rev something else up, so I made notes on that.

As much as rejection is a bummer--because really who wouldn’t prefer to hear a ‘yes, we love you and want to publish you and throw scads of money at you in the process’—the fact is, if you’re going to get a rejection the type Ms. Alvarez provided to me is the way to go. And it is making me doubly conscious of what to look for as I rework things. And in truth, when this book gets published, I want it to be the best it can be.

3 comments:

Peggy said...

I read once that rejections with comments is like receiving a prize. If you're going get rejected, that's the way to do it.

Melissa Marsh said...

Rejection can definitely be a good thing sometimes. When I think of my manuscript being an actual book, published and on the shelf, BEFORE I made the revisions suggested by the agent who rejected it, I cringe.

Tess said...

Great attitude, Kelly. Sometimes I think we write those "b" scenes as place holders. Then fix things later, when it becomes clear they don't quite work. But it probably helped you keep the flow of the story going at the time you first wrote it. That's what has happened for me in the past, and imagine it will happen with the ms I'm (supposed to be) working on now.