At least that's how I felt merely one day ago. Yesterday morning I got the email regarding the partial I sent out. Not the call, the email. And as you struggling writers know, that ain't what you want my brotha's and sista's. As my father-in-law would say, "Wowzers!"
Let me start this off by saying that I had and still have, a tremendous amount of respect for this agent. From the moment they contacted me, they were up front, firm and corteous. Having said that, I'll try to outline their response, my response (to myself) and lessons learned.
Their response. In short, they did not find the plot all that beleivable. Also, they felt that it is the rare crime novel, which can succeed with a Private Investigator as a central character. Of course, my novel has a PI as a central character. They also went on to express concern about lack of setting, etc. All in all, it was a short and concise response, if not a bit vague. I say vague, because they finished with: "try me again." If someone can tell me what "try me again" really means, I would appreciate it (seriously, what does that mean?).
My response was simple and honest: "Thanks for your reply and feedback. I will put it to good use." I meant every word of it. Of course, this was written while icing my gonads, which felt as though they'd been kicked about twenty times by a large Russian woman, wearing steel toed boots.
I was actually ready to start writing this post yesterday, right after I received the news. Then I stopped and took a step back, letting reality set in. The reality, is that this was one agent and only the first one at that. I then fell apart, slowly but steadily, throughout the day. I finished work, went home, did a lot of thinking while having a few drinks and called it a night.
I woke up late this morning. I remembered my thoughts from the previous night. They rang with Steinbeck, Yates, Matt Hilton and so forth. Why? These guys all had more than their fair share of stumbling blocks in the beginning. And, as far as I can tell, things worked out (well Yates...) or are working out for them. It's called the learning process and it's about what you take away from the experience. I'll list those lessons learned, below.
1. If you have a manuscript to send out, let others read it first. Now, I did this; I let aquantances and a friend read it. Big mistake, at least in my opinion. I would recommend letting someone read your work, who has absolutely no emotional interest in you as a person, whatsoever. It's called putting yourself out there.
2. Think very hard about the query and synopsis you include with your work. Then, go back to step one and include these items in that process as well. Allow people you've never had so much as a conversation with, absolutely shred them to pieces.
3. Have a backup plan for the aftermath. Be confident, but also be realistic. If you get bad news, take a breath, and realize that the world is still turning and will go on turning. If possible, find a place to go and just chill. Are you going to stop the pain? No. But you can at least take steps, not to prolong it. Feeling sorry for yourself, will get you nowhere.
4. Remember that a ton of people are in your shoes. Some have been in those shoes for years and they're still writing.
5. Start writing again, immediately, but do so with a new sense of what you're actually writing. Even if you don't agree with the agents comments, take them to heart and use them. Regardless of how you feel, these guys are the pro's and they do this for a living. You and I, are still just a couple of chuckleheads.
I'm an extreme person who's emotions range from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows. Yesterday was low point: I'd obviously blown my big chance. Today, things look different. Don't get me wrong, I'm still reeling, but I now have something to work with. Before, I was writing off of love for the craft and sheer ambition. I've still got the ambition, and now, I'm also armed with knowledge.
Now it's up to me, to take the next step.
PS. If any of you have questions, want more insight or just have something to add, please feel free to contact me. I've been lucky enough to have several people in the writing community, help and support me. I'd like to pay it forward.