The Reunion & Rejection

Last Friday afternoon, there was a lull in my day. On a whim, I dug through my file drawer looking for a short story I'd submitted to a contest a few years back (for Better Homes & Gardens, or some such--I can't remember now), but instead I found myself hovering over the first manuscript I'd ever written to completion.

THE REUNION

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I opened the folder where that tattered tome lie, and lo there was a letter on top of my peeling manuscript. A rejection letter from Harlequin. Under that? A rejection email from Avon (Harper Collins). Let me take a moment here to thank, from the bottom of my heart, Harlequin (and Avon) for sending me rejection letters. I'm not even kidding about that. If you are an assistant editor who did not pass my tender shoot of a story onto your boss, THANK YOU. :)

Before getting published, I used to blog about rejections, and how I was grateful for rejections. From that unpublished writer  perspective, I think I was grateful because I knew the rejections would make me into a better writer. Well, now I'm able to look back at it as a published writer and see that not only did I become a better writer (and hopefully continue to become a better writer), but also that rejections saved me from being a frozen-in-her-tracks mediocre writer. I know I'm not as good as I'll ever be, but the idea of being where I was? Of being published while I worked my way through MS after MS?  That's a horror story in and of itself. 8-O  

With my background in a myriad of jobs, a degree in graphic design, and unharnessed creativity, my first work of fiction wasn't exactly...er...organized. If I had published this book rather than Tempting the Billionaire, I may never have found Shane and Crickitt at all. And if I never found Shane, there'd be no Aiden. O____O Perish the thought!

Just for fun (terrifying fun), let's write an alternate ending to my story of publishing...one where I self-pubbed The Reunion back in 2010...

*gazes into crystal ball*

Yessss, I see...I see books told solely from the heroine's POV. I see beta heroes...definitely betas, with a barely discernible personalities, the poor dears. They're cute. Sort of. And...wait...what have we here? NO SEX SCENES???

This is the future that could have befell my books, ladies and gents. I shudder.   :cry:

I am grateful for those rejections now more than ever.

The rejections (for The Reunion and my other books) let me explore my voice--and there are traces of it in there trying to eke past all that dull sentence structure.  The rejections helped me to push myself and my writing, and ask the question: what kind of book do I really want to write? When I shut off all the outside noise, cast aside all my worries about "what will so-and-so say?", what story do I want to tell, really?

I'm not sure if I've stumbled upon "the book of my heart" yet. I'm not entirely sure I have a book of my heart, to be honest. There are many books in my heart, and each one is a diary of sorts. Compiled by experiences I've had in my life (hello, direct sales/Crickitt and fear of motorcycles/Sadie), taken from bits and pieces of conversation overheard, or a concept or idea that just wouldn't let up.

Even now as I read over The Reunion, an idea is nudging me. Could my hero and heroine be excavated from the tomb they've been buried in since February 12, 2010? Could I resurrect them? Hold onto the fragile idea of who they once were, but deliver it in a relevant way? Or are my sweet H/h destined to be locked away forever? A random brick in the road of the journey I'm traveling...

I'm not sure. But I know this, as much as I owe a thank you to those who rejected me in the past, I also owe a thank you to those two characters who helped me find the next ones, and the ones after them. So without further delay:

Tad and Lucy, thank you.

~Jess :)