Some might argue that personal rejection hurts worst, but for a writer, professional rejection feels pretty damn personal. I sent out a proposal for a piece I’m doing, and my baby was rejected before taking its first breath.
“BDSM is a hot genre, and we found your premise of a hostage situation turned sexy very enticing. We also enjoyed the idea of a hot m/m set against the lush backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains,” said the publisher’s response… but wait for it.
They followed up with, “we felt the romantic development was too subtle. The majority of scenes between Stunt and Alex only hint of their mutual attraction. Although there is plenty of conflict between the two men, that conflict seems more focused on the suspense aspects of the story rather than on the romantic development that our readers demand.”
I guess it would hurt less only the parts they don’t like are the very parts of the story I do like. I write for myself first and foremost, and the problem is that I’m clearly out of sync with the rest of the world.
A reader recommended Joey Hill’s vampire books because I adore femdom. Love it. But the problem is that I didn’t love Joey Hill’s books. Lyssa is a thousand year old vampire who is facing death, political dissent that threatens to undo the vampire hierarchy she designed, and a vamp who once raped her and is scheming against her now. She also has Jacob, a human who has a deep and destined love who tries to push into her life.
I read the first two novels, and they have so much going for them: Jacob’s streak of self-sacrifice, Lyssa’s hard heart with that Tootsie-soft center, the danger… it should be perfect for me.
But it wasn’t.
I kept wondering how the hell Lyssa had survived for a thousand years when she spends more time worrying about Jacob’s ass than the dozen vampires trying to destroy her. Seriously… what is up with that?
And there were so many sex scenes that I found myself skipping over them because I wanted to know how these two could form a united front against the world. I didn’t need to see two fronts uniting over and over (or a front and a back, or a mouth and a cunt).
So my problem is that I could take my story and focus the story on the romantic conflict instead of the “suspense aspects,” but I don’t want to. In my story, Alex has lost his brother. If his reaction to that death includes having sex with Stunt on very available surface, I’m going to think less of him. I just am.
So the rejection feels so very personal.
Too late, I remember why I don’t do proposals. The creativity required to write is a tissue-paper flower. It’s easily frayed and ripped. The petals threaten to fall off at the least breeze, and I put it out in a storm.
Okay, so it was more of a brisk wind because that was a particularly kind rejection, one that even asked me to come back if I could write something that conformed to their guidelines better.
But a tissue-paper flower doesn’t handle brisk winds well.