Monday, July 12, 2010

If You Think Rejections are Tough in the Book Biz...

A good friend of mine offered the following lighthearted piece on the R word. I first ran into Cathy Roy at an open mic where I fell in love with her delivery of another vignette she'd written.

Enjoy, Dave.

I like to say I’m good at rejection. Quite a few of my friends wanted to know if I was going to write about men and rejection, and while I have enough material for a novel on that subject, let’s just say currently, I’m addressing professional rejection. Rejection came early in my career. Having had some success in radio as a deejay and working for Polygram records, it seemed only natural that I should be one of the first veejays on MTV. Keep in mind this was around 1980 and during auditions, most of us didn’t understand the concept. The audition consisted of a camera being put on you and a man telling you, “Pretend you’re on radio and now announce some records.” Huh? Most of my fellow deejays and I kept saying we didn’t really get the concept of MTV. Another surprise was the number of actors and actresses at the audition who were obviously much better looking and much better on camera but knew nothing about music. I was hoping youth and experience would be on my side. And, I had an ex-boss who had an affair with one of the principals, so maybe I’d at least go on to next group of auditions.

Sad to say, about a week later I got a courtesy call telling me that they were looking to cast one sexy rock and roller girl type and one wholesome girl. After looking at my audition tape I was neither sexy nor wholesome, but good luck. Click. Ouch!! At the time, those of us rejected, thought it seemed like a silly idea and MTV would never catch on. When MTV finally aired, it was like “oh, now I get it!” Time has a way of healing all wounds, even rejection and over the years, I’ve learned to almost forget about it. Even though I do think that witch Martha Quinn took my job. Just kidding!

My next gig was in video for a few years in Los Angles. LA is the town of rejection. Not being an actor, but working in the industry I learned every rejection is one step closer to acceptance. Something that definitely helps with my writing career. A big agent worked in my office building in Los Angeles and one day being desperate; he came down to see me and asked to go read for a part. They were looking for a fair skin red-head, which I was at the time, and it seemed like it would be a fun thing to do so I just went. After a three line reading a voice in the dark stopped me and asked if I had ever considered a nose job or a face lift. Since I was only 25, I answered “not really” and laughed my way back to my day job.

Years later I came to writing. One of my first experiences was with an agent who told me, “Don’t even bother talking to me unless you’re writing something paranormal and NOT a vampire, werewolf, witch or wizard.” Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I was wondering if I could run one of my current novels around some plot which might interest her, but outside of vampires, werewolves and witches, what else was there that was paranormal? My mind only came up with leprechauns, so I tried running my current novel pitch in my mind with a leprechaun in the plot. Let’s see, how about a young leprechaun works for a rock and roll band in the late 70’s and … Oh, no... This wasn’t going to work. Of course she looked at me like I was nuts and spent the rest of the conference running from me whenever she saw me. I couldn’t turn my chic lit comedy into paranormal, no matter how hard I tried. But it did get me thinking, I could probably turn it into romance, if need be. Unfortunately I did not run into any romance agents that weekend. Truth be told if anyone offered me money for my chic lit novel, I’d be willing to turn it into CSI.

I now have two novels under my belt, completely different genres, and although still getting rejected, I’ve decided unless I get rejected over 100 times, I’m not going to sweat it. It’s not really worth it, I mean after all – it only takes one yes and it’s kind of like winning the lottery. If you don’t play you won’t win. When I get rejected it’s actually great - because at least someone besides myself and my writing group are reading my work. Even if it is some 22 year old assistant who wasn’t even born in the decade I’m writing about. Some have actually mentioned they like my writing voice or the plot is funny, but just not what they are looking for right now. Yes, still a rejection, but a much better class of rejection, which leads me to believe I’m one step closer to getting accepted.

Some days I feel like getting an agent or book deal is like playing roulette. So like most writers I know, I plug away at pitching agents, send out query letters and keep coming to writer’s conference in hopes of that eventual and elusive yes. Because sooner or later, after so many no’s and endless re-writes, there’s just bound to be a yes. And yes, I did buy a lotto ticket today. You never know.

No comments: