Over the weekend, I ventured to a quaint coffee shop, apprehensive, burdening my laptop. Contesting every self-conscious thought, I pressed past couples populating iron tables perched on a brick patio, enjoying the uncharacteristically warm march day, and crossed the rustic, sandpaper faded doorway, egregiously aged beyond the buildings construction. Inside, a collection of local writers discuss recent obstacles inherent among aspiring authors, heavy-handed with freshly brewed imported beans. Trepidation subsides. Coffee and writing, I feel accepted before introductions are made.
Liquefied obsidian laced with rocket fuel in hand, having endured a tongue-in-cheek session directed at my odd love of Chuck Palahniuk and Pixar movies, I feel accepted, nervous, but genuinely welcomed. Finally! I have discovered likeminded – slightly socially awkward – individuals who I can relate to, if only for our love of writing.
One in the afternoon, time to share some work. Exiting onto a reserved balcony overlooking the historic district, my future literary companions and I settle around industrial outdoor furniture and prepare. Convincing myself it’s the coffee and not my realized fears causing my heart to race, I power up my laptop, placing on the identical cast iron table crowding the storefront patio.
Selecting a document of recent, unpolished, unread pages, I pretend to study my screen as if an error caused a costly delay. Peering up, my fellow writers seem to be experienceing similar technical issues.
“I got another one.” The girl to my right expresses pulling a single sheet from her messenger bag. Pushing her whipped, white mocha frappuccino dangerously within reach, she clears her throat.
“Thank you for allowing us to read your manuscript.” Sighs erupt among the roundtable populace. “Unfortunately, we do not think your project is the right fit for us. We wish you all the best of luck. Sincerely, a highly sought literary agent.” A torrent of condemnation ensues.
Stuffing the rejection letter away, I dreed what is to come. Will I be asked to go first? Or perhaps a reprieve, being new and all. Maybe I’ll be afforded the option of spectating my first time.
Another single sheet is produced. This is going to be good. The group meets Bi-weekly and members expect new material each gathering. A solitary sheet means she must have put a lot of effort into it.
The begging sounds eerily familiar. “Thank you for allowing us to read your manuscript.”
After the third rejection letter is read aloud, I politely excuse myself, referring to my phone having just received a fictitious emergency text. Coffee in hand, I flee.
I doubt this is everyone’s experience with writing groups, but it was my first, likely last. To think people devote time, energy to something as common as rejection letters is beyond me. Perhaps, just maybe, if you receive a unfavorable reply from an editor or agent, your work is not good enough, yet. Instead of bellyaching, spend your time writing. Improving your craft. The people who are rejecting you are going after writers they feel will sell. Now that’s not to say that all published work is top tier, or all agents/editors are motivated solely by money. But they do not stay in business by passing up promising stories.
– I just had to vent.