I’ve said it before…trying to get published is like dating to find a spouse. In the beginning, we tend to over-think everything. We hang on every single word our potential mate says, and then we go home and obsessively psychoanalyze each word to figure out what he really means.
There’s a great scene in a Sex and the City episode where Carrie replays a phone message from Mr. Big over and over, then replays it for Miranda so they can discuss what each word meant. On the machine he says something like, “Hi, it’s me. Call me back.” And then Carrie says, “He wants to get back together, right? That’s what it means, right??”
Okay, that is so me and my pre-published writing buddies when we wait to hear back from editors. When we hear nothing, we wonder if he/she is just playing coy while secretly gushing to the acquisitions team about our brilliance. When we get a response, we analyze it to death, hoping every exchange leads us closer to happily ever after. Looking back at old rejection letters now is pretty funny, because in my “puppy cancer” days I would read, “Thank you for sending me your lively picture book, If You Give a Dogg a Doobie. Unfortunately, we don’t feel that this has strong retail potential, and therefore is not right for our list at this time. Good luck in finding your manuscript a home.”
And I’d go, OMG! She thanked me! She called it lively. She liked it, right? No, she loved it. They can’t take it because of “retail potential.” It’s a very specialized project, and they don’t have the money for marketing right now. But they will in the future, right? She said “home.” That means it’s good enough to find a home, right? They love me!
Editorial Anonymous recently posted a great series on learning Editor Speak that had me snorting coffee out my nose and rolling on the floor. Y’all should check it out. Of course, now that I’m older and more experienced (jaded) about waiting, dating and rejection, I realize that like SNL’s Mr. Subliminal (remember that skit with Kevin Nealon?) what the editor was really saying was:
“Unfortunately, this waste of paper has cost me three minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. No one will think this is amusing except for you and your stoner friends. It’s not right for us now, or ever. And it will never be right for any house because it’s not funny, or kid friendly, or well written. Good luck in this business. You’re gonna need it, ‘cause you suck right now. Don’t quit your day job because the only home this ms will ever know is the bottom of your junk drawer.”
As I sit here playing the Waiting Game, jumping every time the phone rings and hitting the e-mail “refresh” button, I’ve regressed back to my insecure little teen self in the dating world, trying desperately to find the right guy who will make all my dreams come true. There are moments when I think, I’m a moron. I’ll never sell a book. And the next moment I’ll think I’m the next Walter Dean Myers. In the beginning, waiting (like dating) is kind of fun and exciting. Then it gets old and depressing. I’m looking so forward to the next phase when I find the “one” who helps me find my happily ever after. I know you’re out there, man. Call me!