There is a lesson all writers could learn from scientists when it comes to results. For the scientist engaged in an experiment, all results are one thing and one thing only: information. In this way, the scientist’s emotional detachment serves him or her well. The scientist is trained, theoretically, to be a disengaged observer, interested only in what the result of a given experiment can teach him or her, instead of a cheerleader for this or that outcome. Writers, particularly once we move our work from our desk to the marketplace of other people’s opinion, tend to lean toward the cheerleader. And for obvious reasons. The goal for all writers is the same: find those people with whom our work most resonates. These are the people who will represent it, publish it, and buy it. With all our attention trained on this one particular outcome, it is easy to reject the information contained within results we judge as unwanted.
It was Edison who said, of his first 100 attempts at creating a light bulb, that he had not failed 100 times, but had instead succeeded in finding 100 ways not to make a light bulb. Sometimes this is true of rejection letters. Before the rejection letter we did not know if this agent was the right agent; now we do. Information. Sometimes, however, rejection letters may tell us, in one way or another, that we need to rewrite our query letters; or that we need to submit to different types of agents; or that we need to rewrite our book. And of course sometimes letters tell us that we have found the right agent or publisher.
The world does not want you to fail. The world is forever supplying you with the information needed to do exactly what you want. Whether you accept this information or not is up to you. But do not fear the information. It is always friendly. The only thing to fear is your judgment of that information. When those letters come back, don your lab coat and pocket protector and look with friendly eyes upon what the world wishes you to know, and be grateful that you are one letter wiser.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.