On Landing an Agent / Getting Rejected (and Everything in Between)

I know this is going to sound a little stupid and formulaic, and it probably is. But when I first began this whole process of shopping myself out (or, as Elle Lothlorien would say, pimping myself out) in the hopes of achieving representation of the literary kind, it felt a lot like when I was in high school…okay, college…and I’d just started dating for the first time.

Snicker if you will, but I think the analogy is just. Because when you’re inexperienced at something, there’s always this gut-wrenching sense of awe and excitement, which is immediately followed by a crippling terror of doing something wrong. Of being rejected. Of putting yourself out there, and having someone tell you, for the very first time, that you’re undesirable. Whether it’s the cute boy in your sophomore English class–why is it, by the way, that you never fell in love in math class? Or chemistry, for that matter?–or the Dream Agent you’ve been secretly e-stalking for months… until you’ve gotten that first bitter taste of failure, the only two emotional settings you’ll possess are desperate, idiotic hope and nauseating preemptive despair. There really is no middle ground.

And then they call. Or they e-mail, whatever. Maybe it’s a casual “hey,” or a full-blown “I love you, please marry me.” Either way, you’ll respond with the same maniacal squee and unrestrained convulsions of joy. You’ll prance around your house like an idiot–possibly even shedding articles of clothing with reckless abandon, or obnoxiously crowing lyrics to your favorite Aerosmith song–until the adrenaline finally dies down, and you suddenly realize with dawning horror that the ball…whether romantic or literary…is suddenly and inescapably back in YOUR end of the court.

What now, gentle dreamer? Didn’t factor this into your painstakingly crafted fantasies at all, did you? Now you’re stuck, poised like a gentle woodland creature caught in the high beams of an oncoming semi truck. Your emotions are running amok, telling you to respond immediately and with all the suaveness of a cheerleader fending off an attacking bee. But somewhere deep down, your mind’s natural defense mechanisms tell you to wait. Breathe. Consider.

Now that the panic has subsided…or is at least roiling a little deeper beneath the surface…you can finally stop worrying so much about which box they’ll check–yes or no–and start thinking about what’s best for you. Do you want to be with someone who only “sorta” likes you, or are you willing to wait and hope for someone who’s just as in love with you as you are with them? That’s the question, really, isn’t it? Both in love, and in literature.

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