Sarah Kishpaugh

Rejection Makes You Stronger

I thought sending my manuscript to local agents I’d have a better chance at piquing their interest. Wouldn’t they appreciate my Seattle landscapes and hospital scenes? Not so much. One agent recommended to me by my adviser was kind. Months into the handfuls of email exchanges, she wrote that she “…loved the way you captured the events that turned your life upside down–the way a trauma like this is inevitably one step forward and several steps back…” Then came the inevitable But. “But I’m afraid I don’t feel I’m the right agent for it–I’ve simply had too much pushback from editors on memoirs lately.

The other local agent was gracious, too. She thanked me and said the memoir was moving, but that ultimately, she found the story “too sad for me to connect with it right now.” I gave her pushback. I told her I had a thick skin, so just lay it on me. Should I make it funnier, or change the tenses, or alter the ending? She wrote me back to say, “we’re working on many serious projects, and sometimes, I have to sit back and acknowledge that I have limits on how many emotionally intense books I can work on at once.”

Writers need friends — writing friends. Another colleague told me of my rejection letters that he got one too, only shorter. Longer is better, he said. You’re in the game. Really the whole reason for this post is so I can share what my colleague Marty wrote when I forwarded him the e-mail rejection: “You need an agent who is going to punch the publisher in the face, slam your manuscript down on their desk, say “If you don’t publish this, you are not only fucking stupid, but you also hate making money,” flip off the suits, and waltz out the door.”

Selected Works

Essay
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Nonfiction
Bitch Magazine
Guest Blogs
Feminist Wednesday
The Writer in the World

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