Over the past few weeks, I’ve been getting some mail. Special mail in the self-addressed-stamped-envelopes I had included with query letters to various book publishers regarding two different projects.

Each time I spotted one, my heart rate accelerated and I got short of breath. After waiting for anxious months to learn whether anyone was interested in seeing more of my writing, the moment of truth had finally arrived. My fingers trembled. Should I rip open the envelope and scan the contents immediately? Or should I wait until I was actually inside my house and away from the prying eyes of my neighbors?

The first letter arrived three weeks ago. A form letter in very faint ink telling me that “being turned down, as is the case here, is not necessarily a criticism of your submission.” So, why did it feel like it?

The second letter? Another form letter telling me to “look for a more suitable publisher” for my work. Ouch.

The third letter, also a form letter, was the nicest by far. They thanked me for considering them as a possible publisher before saying they were sorry they couldn’t use my material.

Three letters. Three rejections. And one very grumpy, discouraged writer.

And then the fourth letter arrived. Holding the envelope didn’t yield the same feelings of heady anticipation. In fact, I almost threw it away without opening it. Yet, I’d decided (for tax purposes) to save the rejection letters as proof that I’m actively seeking publication.

I sat down and opened the sealed flap. I tugged the enclosed single sheet of paper out and unfolded it. My eyes scanned the first paragraph. Thanks for your query letter about your proposed book project. We appreciate your interest.

My heart sank. This sounded like the previous letter.

Until I got to the second sentence of the second paragraph. The spot where they asked to see more of my work. My heartrate accelerated and I felt a wave of dizziness. An actual request for a proposal based on a query letter. My. First. Ever. And the emotional waterfall threatened to wash me away into an oblivion of prideful daydreams.

What happens when we get mixed messages? Do we believe the rejections and consider giving up? Or do we believe the praise and wrestle with pride? The bigger question may be whether either message truly reflects who we are at the core of our character? Which message will we believe?

I may have received mixed mail, but I’m still the same person I was before opening either kind of letter. And I have a feeling I’ll be getting more of both in the future. So, I’d better to learn how to deal with the emotional aftermath now.

What about you? What kind of mail have you been reading lately?

Mixed Mail
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One thought on “Mixed Mail

  • July 15, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    >Congratulations on the positive response to your query letter. You deserve the break, the leap from the slush pile. Keep on plugging away and you'll take the next leap into an offer to publish your book.
    I haven't been getting much mail, good or bad, but that means I haven't been sending stuff out which isn't good at all.

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