Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Getting Lost and Gaining Perspective

I'm spending the first half of spring break in Michigan with a school friend. I've always identified with my Michigan friends because my dad spent the first twenty-something years of his life here, including college at Michigan State University. My friend lives near MSU, so we spent a few hours wandering the campus--eating, shopping, and one other thing.

That other thing was trying to find my dad's co-op.

He'd sent me the address. I had maps on my phone--with walking directions and everything! So Friend and I went to lunch, then plugged in the address. There were two different options for what my dad had given us, so we guessed.

Ha, you all know where this is going, huh?

We set off west, and wandered half a mile. The little blue triangle representing us was nearly upon the little dot representing our destination when we began to study the area.

"This doesn't seem right," my friend said, squinting at all the sororites and fraternites around us.

"But . . . it says . . ." I said, staring forlornly at my phone.

That's when we realized we'd picked "west" when we should have picked "east." Route recalculated, we headed back the way we came, to where the co-op really was--one mile away. It just so happened that the co-op was less than a block away from where we had parked the car, and next door to a fraternity we'd been talking about on our way to lunch.

Sometimes you just don't know where you've been until you have the perspective earned from other experiences.

I got a Teen Eyes request just over a month ago, right after Vickie had offered but before I had actually signed with her, so everything was hush-hush. In it, the writer was asking why her story had not received personalized rejections, and what it meant that it hadn't. Here's what I said:

"I received a full request and then a form rejection from two agents before I received an offer of representation for that same manuscript. A form rejection doesn't mean your manuscript is any worse than a manuscript that receives a personalized, info-filled rejection. It simply means the agent couldn't quite put her finger on what didn't work, and s/he didn't want to spend the time thinking about it when s/he had more slush pile to read/clients to take care of. And yes, that sounds kind of harsh, but what if it were someone else's manuscript, and you were the next query letter in line?

Again, it's hard to tell WHY you're getting rejected without actually reading the story, but here are two things that may be helpful: Remember that it only takes one agent to say yes, and keep in mind that a form rejection doesn't mean the story is the problem."
I remember tweeting this immediately after:

See, a couple weeks earlier, I was exactly where the woman who wrote this email was: frustrated with form rejections and feeling blindly in the dark for clues to see how close I was.

Truth is, you don't know how close you are until the lights come on.


  1. Nice post. I love that last line. *frantically searching for light switch*

  2. Oh wow this is an amazing post! So very true! Thanks for sharing, T.

  3. I'm so proud of the journey you've taken as a writer, Taryn--and, more so, how you're so dedicated in giving back to other writers everything you've learned. See you tonight!