Dear Sir, [REDACTED] decided not to take your manuscript to the next stage [REDACTED] wish you the [REDACTED] in placing your manuscript elsewhere [ETC].
It has been my profound privilege and pleasure participating, of course, and waiting these three months has been something of a quiet adventure of its own; maybe a bit like having a mildly venomous snake loose somewhere in your apartment complex: if not a constant reminder of your own mortality, certainly a topic for light conversation and idle concern as you tuck yourself into bed at night.
And, let’s not forget about the lessons learned in constructing a good pitch, and the realities of staring down a statistically improbable prospect such as publishing a book in the first place. I am indebted to friends, family, and colleagues along the way, and would like to wish you all good night, and in your own endeavors, the very best of luck.
Okay. Is this thing off? Is the press conference over?
Good. Because I’m not happy. I’m pissed.
Not at Angry Robot. They’ve got a great stable of writers and books – they need to be selective, especially when taking a chance like an Open Door Submissions month. To even give me that consideration is huge of them and if it comes around again I intend to jump at the chance. I’m not angry with them – how could I be?
I’m angry with myself. I spent three months waiting around, with this one book in this one basket (whose own stated odds were – literally – four-in-one-thousand), hoping against all hope, oh-maybe-that-Mister-DeMille-will-pick-me and I’d be the next leading man on the New Talkie.
That was stupid. And let this be a lesson to everyone so you don’t make the same mistake: don’t spend your time hoping. Yes, hope is the great social bearer’s bond – it floats nations in crisis, drives revolutions against despots, saves lives in the face of tragedy, and, modulated through the right kinds of speakers can actually summon Batman. But it’s also like guilt - it’s something we do to make ourselves feel better that we’re not doing something more useful.
If you slapped the writer filter on and scanned over my last ninety days, you’ll find I did nothing to write a sequel, nothing to solicit agents, nothing to polish a third draft of Hash, and outside of my one short story, no other fiction writing at all. I just sat there and hoped. I look at today’s markets for digital and print content – all of them - as something of a dartboard. I threw one dart, hoping to hit a bullseye.
Probably not the best plan.
Time is the most valuable thing you have. If you want to be succesful in an endeavor, you need to use that time. I’m not saying I regret the time I spent with family and friends. I’m not saying I regret the passion I poured into my work in other areas. But I regret being myopic, regret holding an outdated notion of being discovered in today’s self-reliant, asymmetric, fragmented neo-tribal world.
If Hash is going to succeed, I need to really pour in the energy to help it along - that means meeting the right people, pitching it to the right people, rewriting it to sell, and working on The Next One and The One After That with reckless disregard for my current book’s success or failure. Because this really is up to me. More, now than ever, our success or failure is in our hands.
Ultimately, I’m not upset that I got a rejection letter. I’m upset that by spending three months of my life waiting, I only got one.
Man, did I pick the wrong week to quit drinking.