How to survive query rejections

Joe’s Post # 32 — Well, the rejections have started to come in (and those now out there for a while might very well be considered rejections since not every agent will get back to you).

So how do you survive the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?

10 possibilities.

cuddling1) Cuddling. Cuddle your teddy. Cuddle your sweetie while watching Amazing Race. Cuddle your children. Cuddle your dog, cat, hamster or pet snake. The healing powers of cuddling cannot be underestimated. Not only is it snuggly but it helps remind you that there are other more important things in life than a letter that says, “you suck, you totally suck, you need to give up writing and become a professional cuddler.”

2) Alcohol. Not my first choice but the choice of many writers. Whiskey, neat. A Cougar Town glass of red wine. A belini with a pink umbrella. It helps dull the pain, it helps you forget, but it’s pretty temporary (and it could make thing worse, especially if you decide to send off an email to the rejecting agent threatening to send locks of hair to them or something.)

3) Ignore it, it’s part of being a writer. Oh how I wish I could get this mindset. It’s like the guy who can walk over to a pretty girl, get turned down (or in the case of my friend, Sean, get a glass of port thrown in his face) and march back without having lost a stitch of confidence. I’m honestly not sure how to not feel the rejection and that port will stain!

4) Go for a walk. Clear your head. Take the dog, cat, hamster or snake with you. Fresh air helps. I know it shouldn’t but it does. Look at the sea or the trees or the fit people jogging. Hate them if need be. Tell yourself that as soon as you get back, you’ll do #10.

5) Phone a friend. Rant at how unfair the world is. Rant that you wrote the all-time world’s best query letter. Rant that you used the best font, the most amazing paper, the greatest opening ever written by a pasty-faced writer sitting in front of his ‘puter and you even got the agent’s name right. Get it all out. Cleanse that bile.

zombies6) Go do something fun. No, not leave dog poop on the neighbour’s lawn. Go bowling. Blow zombie heads to bits in a video game (or in real life depending on which apocalypse is plaguing us). Watch a movie. Listen to your favourite music with eyes shut and head cradled by a comfy leather couch. Go have coffee with a friend and splurge on extra foam, or whipped cream. Read a book. Remember that fun can still be had.

7) Exercise. (No, this is NOT a sub-heading of the ‘go do something fun’ option!) Like walking, this about getting out of the house and working your body so hard that feelings no longer matter. For me, that’s 2 push-ups, 3 sit ups and a glass of water. Go play tennis until you can’t walk. Go shoot hoops until your arms burn and the little kids shout, ‘hey mister, get off the court, you haven’t made a basket in 130 shots.’ Run until you can barely breathe. Lift weights until your muscles bulge like Swartzenegger’s. It doesn’t matter. For some reason I don’t completely understand, exercise is good for the mind as well as the body. Maybe even good for the soul. Who knows.

8) Feel what you’re going to feel. It’s what my therapist would say. And my dog. The more you fight your feelings, the more they will build up and come back to bite you in the ass at some point. So you repress for a week, then suddenly someone parks in your spot and you go all Tarentino on them. Or someone asks how are you doing and you burst into tears. Feeling sad, it’s ok. Feeling angry, it’s ok. Let the feelings pass through you until only you remain (to quote the fremen of Dune.)

9) Meditate. You know, sit and cross your legs and clear your mind. Can anyone actually do this? Really? At best I’ll fall asleep. At worst, I just get stuck in my mind and pull a groin muscle. But it’s something to consider if you’ve evolved to a higher state of being, like those people who carry around yoga mats and (to quote a friend of mine) “are ready to lay that mat down anywhere and do the sleeping dog.”

10) Get another query letter written and sent out. A rejection is not a failure. Failure is only failure when you stop.

Yesterday, I did 6 of the 10 things.

Today, another rejection and I think I’ll do one of them until I throw up. Your guess as to which one.

14 thoughts on “How to survive query rejections

  1. As long as its not drinking – that much alcohol pretty much kills two days. Great suggestions. When my next one comes in, I’ll do one of them. Another one? Garden. It’s a great way to feel peaceful, no matter what happened. Btw, how can you throw up by cuddling? Or do I even want to know?

  2. I think 8 & 10 are really good points on your list. Feel your feelings, but don’t wallow in them…get on with it! You are in the same boat as everyone else! You want to get published? Send your freakin’ letters out there! Now go!!!

  3. I might add boxing and remove #7. I’ll keep that list handy for down the road when it’s my turn to get rejected, which will take a while. Until my manuscript gets to the rejectable phase, i.e. the End. You’re way ahead of the rest of us, Joe, so keep sending them out, do lots of #1, take multi-vitamins and avoid anything that makes you throw up.

  4. I’ve had them. They’re the badge of honor for writers, right? No one who’s really “made it” escaped “The Big R.” I would add chocolate as another option, or a favorite comfort food. Large quantities of these should be followed by a good dose of No. 7, though.

  5. I’m right there with the chocolate suggestion. If you shed a tear at the same time, you can turn it into salted chocolate — yum. Seriously though, Joe, besides all your other self-comforting strategies, you also did one of the best … you wrote a post about it. I don’t know if it made you feel any better (I hope so), but it made all the rest of us feel better by bringing a smile to this touchy topic. Hang in there man!

  6. I have two theoretical rejections. I haven’t heard back from two agents who requested my work. Bummer. Worked in the yard all day and never thought of those agents once. Then I had wine and now a good movie. The heck with them. Loved your list Joe and your attitude. Failure breeds success.

    • Only one thing I know for sure. If I don’t get queries out there, I won’t get published. The reverse is not true, (if I DO get queries out there, I will get published) but the first thing certainly is. 🙂

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