is there such a thing as too much hope?

For a long time, hope has been an important theme to me. Hope that one day, my lifelong dream of publication will come true; hope that my husband will find the job our family needs; hope that we’ll soon be able to move closer to my family. At Christmastime, I found this sweet little plaque and gave it a home on my living room lamp.

Now I wonder if it’s possible that hoping for something extra hard isn’t necessarily a good thing. I get those hopes up sky high whenever I get a request for a partial or full manuscript submission, especially when the request begins with, “We’ve enjoyed what we’ve read so far and would love to read more…” So when the inevitable rejection comes, it destroys me. This last time, I did extensive research on the publisher and was so sure we were a perfect match. Sure enough that, when the letter showed up in my inbox, the smile was already plastered to my face, a giddy scream of delight building in my throat, when I clicked on the email and then read the form rejection.

I called my mom and had a total meltdown, and I still feel the sting. I don’t blame the publisher for this; it’s my fault for not reining in that hope before it got uncontrollably high. So if someone knows how I can avoid that next time, please tell me! Because it happens to me every time, no matter how many times I tell myself the next big rejection won’t bother me. (I’m long past the stage where the standard query rejections get me down.)

Which takes me off on a tangent now: I understand the necessity for form rejections in the slush pile. Agents and publishers are crazy busy, and I appreciate getting even a form letter to let me know I can cross that query off my list. Maybe it’s just me, but I kinda think that when we get a request to send more material – and we spend all that time waiting and hoping that they like the additional chapters as much as they liked the original query and sample writing – in this case we just might deserve a brief explanation to let us know why it was rejected? My rejection from Sarah LaPolla (who was awesome, said she loved the subject I was writing, and requested a full) came with a very kind and reasonable explanation as to why The Moongate ultimately didn’t work for her. I used her suggestions to polish my manuscript even more.

I don’t want to come across as whiny or unappreciative, but I’m going to flat-out say it now: Dear agents and publishers, when you like us enough to pick us out of the slush pile and request more of our writing, please do us a favor and let us know why it didn’t work out for you, when at first you liked our stuff and we got our hopes up that you thought we were super awesome. That kind of courtesy would be so much appreciated, and also let us know what we can do to avoid a rejection with the next materials request. Thanks!

Now it’s back to the drawing board. As many of my dear friends have told me, Cobalt might be my breakthrough novel. And I’m okay with that, especially since it’s so close to being completed (and I know enough about rewriting to avoid it taking more than a few months this time). And of course I will never give up on The Moongate, because I’m not the only one who believes in that story.

Now this past Monday, when we posted our latest podcast at Behind the Steam, I completely forgot to freak out about it on my blog! So here it is. Get your booties over to our music blog and check it out. I know our podcast interviews tend to be long – about an hour on average, but we won’t force you to listen to the whole thing, or any of it if you’re pressed for time. (And I’m so embarrassed because, as usual, I’m so nervous that I seem really out there!)

But Erica Mulkey, known by her stage name Unwoman, is a beautifully talented cellist and singer, and deserves to be heard. If you only visit BtS to check out her website and links, it’s worth it. 🙂 I’ll end with the first song of hers I heard at an Abney Park concert (Ball of Cthulhu in San Francisco), which instantly made me a fan. 🙂

Link to her performance at the Ball of Cthulhu

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6 thoughts on “is there such a thing as too much hope?

  1. Ah Kristen…cyber hugs.

    I had the same luck with mine. “Past Due” got rejected so much I lost faith in it. Seems I was getting clobbered by the…hmmm…we like it…BUT…does it have that little something extra to be a break out.

    And that hurts. It's good, just not good enough.

    Soooo…when an offer did hit my inbox, I was like…is this publisher crazy? Doesn't she know this isn't worthy? Her answer (yes, I am DUMB enough to ask that question!)…”I LOVED this story. And I sign what I like.

    Moral of the story…some of what you are battling is personal taste.
    I remind myself all the time…I don't “get” the allure of Nicholas Sparks. He is an excellent writer and his sales prove I am in the minority. If I were a publisher or an agent, I'd have passed. (then smacked my own bum for being so stupid!)

    Never lose hope. If you ever need some teen readers to give an opinion…send it my way, I have a house full of them!

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  2. I love your plaque. I want one.
    Agree with Elizabeth – most of it is probably personal taste. My prayer these days is FOR personalized rejects, so at least I can get a consensus for revisions. I totally feel your pain.

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  3. {{BIG HUGS}} I so get what you mean about 'too much hope' — I tend to do that with so many things in my life; I'm trying to cultivate an outlook of 'zero expectations' but it is hard!

    I too am in agreement with the other ladies — it IS all personal taste. Though sometimes, I have to admit, publishers/agents seem to come across as a bit of a clueless bunch *lol* I suppose they are only human after all! I'm with you on form rejections – they suck!!!

    Erica Mulkey is super-fab!!! What a voice! And I want her hat … tho I'm sure it would look daft on me big head. Shall visit BtS, hopefully tomorrow, to have a listen to the interview 😀

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  4. HUGS! Rejections are hard, but I've learned not to take them personally. The way I look at it, I don't always love the books I read or borrow from the library, even when they are bestsellers. It doesn't mean they are horrible books. It just means that they weren't for me. The same thing goes for agents and publishers. A book may be perfectly fine, has beautiful writing, and clean prose, but if it's not right for them, then it's not right for them. I hate the word SUBJECTIVE, but in this case, it really is the only thing that can explain why reader's reviews can fall on both sides of the spectrum: those who love it and those who don't.

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  5. I just have to think about these kinds of situations as when I'm reading books. There are some that are written fantastically but just don't have my interest. It's not for any reason other than I'm just not interested. I figure agents are the same way. Hard to swallow, but life I guess.

    Just found your blog – new follower 🙂

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