It's tough getting that no. It's hard to hear, especially when you've worked your socks off, for hours on end, not just on writing the book, but all the other hours of redrafting and tweaking and then agent amendments and line edits. You get to a point sometimes where you're sick of opening up the same document, fed up of reading the same story, over and over, you're afraid you can't even see it properly anymore. It's a story you've cried over, tore your hair out over, sat before your computer in absolute agony, not knowing what to put next or how to get your character out of that scrape and did they even need to be there in the first place?
Rejection makes you question it all, because you've given it your all.
This isn't just a few hours crafting a story. Its a story that's lived in your head for months, if not years. Some days, it was all you could think about. You'd be sat with family at home chatting with them about their school day, or with your husband telling about that thing that happened by the water cooler and you look like you're listening, you're smiling and nodding in all the right places, but in your head you're wrangling with the plot/realising something else you need to add/coming up with the perfect line of dialogue....
Sometimes it was the last thought before you went to sleep at night and the first thought you had when you woke the next morning. You dreamt about it, spent spare moments writing notes about it on napkins and in that notepad app on your phone whilst you're in the middle of Tesco, knowing that if you don't, you'll forget it and the magic will escape before you've picked up that next can of beans.
It's a story you spent days shaping, a story that dominated your entire life at times and you have simultaneously loved it/hated it/felt tempted to delete the whole bloody thing and start again, but you carried on, because you believed in the story so much and you loved the characters and you weren't ready to say goodbye.
But you did say goodbye. You said 'enough' and sent it out into the big wide world to be looked over and assessed by busy people with busy lives, who are all looking and hoping for the next big thing.
You hope you're the next big thing.
And then they say no. Sorry. It's not for us.
And that hurts.
But you can't take it personally. You have to put your big girl pants on and keep smiling. Keep writing. Keep your head down on the next story thats currently taking possession of your life.
It's the only thing you can do.
And you may shed a tear or two and that's fine. Your book hasn't been loved the way you have wanted them to love it. The way you do still love it, even though it almost broke you at times. You really, really wanted someone else to say that it's special. That it's brilliant. That it totally blew them away.
But you're not always going to get what you want in this life. You may never get what you want.
So you keep writing.
Because one day, someday, someone will say they like it. Someone will say they have loved what you have written. It may not be that last book, it may not be the one you're writing now, it may not be the next one. But if you're a writer, you keep writing.
Because you have to.
Because that's who you are. That's what you do.
And when they do say yes, when they do say, 'we'd like to make you an offer', you can beam with happiness and joy and know that ... yes. I did it.
And then you get to do some more edits. Because the publisher wants them and you read that story again, that you haven't read for so long and you get pulled back into the magic of it all and marvel at whether you actually wrote this, it's so good.
And you remember the joy.
And why it's all worth it.