I received something wonderful this morning: My first rejection notice for my novel from a publisher.
“Dan,” I hear you say, “you’ve forgotten what the word ‘wonderful’ means.” I promise I have not. I’ve been writing most of my life. That audience has generally been a small circle of friends and family, or a few people who happened upon a small collaborative project here or there.
Then, in 2013 I moved forward and self-published a collection of short stories on Amazon, “Draft Distro: Tales of the Past, Present, and Future.” Clunky title, I know, but it summed up the collection, and it is a group of stories of which I am very proud. I was fortunate enough to catch the attention of a Tacoma area film maker, and he adapted and directed one of those stories into a short film (and yes, I not only appear, but die a horrible death in it), something I am also grateful and proud of. It also gave me access to a group of creators and friends I would never have known otherwise.
In 2015 I met and started collaborating with a fantastic artist here in the Great State of Washington, Mr. Michael King. Together, under the banner of “Art-Horse Studios” we have created and published three issues of an alternative history Science Fiction yarn collectively known as “The Etherverse.” Michael has become a truly great friend, and his art makes my words a thousand times more resonant and powerful.
We’ve been doing comic conventions here in the area appearing as vendors or in artist alley, and that has allowed me to meet new people, make new friends, and find new opportunities to create. Despite the fact my readership circle is still relatively small, the benefits of being a writer have already made every moment fretting over a word or character completely worth it. It is the act of writing though that I truly love: the catharsis; the revelations both intrinsic and extrinsic to the story or self; the act of creation, pulling tales from the ether, the alchemy of storytelling that takes something as simple as words and when I am very, very lucky strings them together into something cogent, and perhaps even profound. It is its own reward.
“You have not explained why you like rejection, Dan,” I hear you say.
Because from the time I decided to expand my circle of readers, I have successfully reached a little further and a little further. I have those friendships and friends from each new venture. My next venture, getting broadly and traditionally published, I can only imagine will do the same. It means though reaching out beyond what is immediately in my reach, and venturing into unknown territory.
My rejection is a tangible result of that first attempt. It came with feedback on why the story was rejected. It gives me an opportunity to refocus when I reach out again. My call out into the dark did not echo unanswered, it yielded a result. Someone whom I have never laid eyes on has read my work, and though they found it wanting for their purposes, they responded.
And it just makes me want to call out again. Because I do believe in this novel. I do believe I will find the right venue, the right opportunity. And I know I can reach out with it.
I have a rejection letter that proves it’s possible. That is a wonderful thing.