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Sending My Heart
It was a Friday during the summer. It was warm outside and the sun shone through my window in just the right position to annoy me. I was sitting at my computer and because the sun directly hit the screen I was unable to see what I was typing. I tilted my screen down and the glare disappeared.
“Are you ready yet?” my mom called from downstairs.
I turned in my chair and saw the piles of paper on my bedroom floor. “No!” I yelled down to her.
“Okay, let me know when you are.”
I looked back at my computer screen. My heart was jumping in my chest with excitement and nervousness. I had never done this before. I didn’t even know if what I was writing was good. For all I knew the agents would take one look at it and without even reading it dump it in the trash.
I was taking a risk – one I wanted to take – that was nearly killing me from the inside out. I was sending a query letter, a sample chapter of my book, and a synopsis – all of which had probably taken me longer to write than the book itself. I was so nervous and had wanted to make my query so flawless that I hadn’t taken the time to eat lunch. My hands were shaking as I was typing, but I ignored my need for food and took the next hour and a half to sort out, double-check, seal, and stamp envelopes. After I had done all I could for the paper queries I went into my email. In my drafts folder were five other queries to send. I checked those and then nervously hit the send button for each.
Five were out. They were now in the hands of agents. I hoped they would read them. Finally, around three in the afternoon I went downstairs.
“I’m ready!” I smiled and held out my six manila envelopes to show my mom.
She had been sitting on the couch watching some reality show while she ate lunch. My mom normally ate lunch extremely late so this was not a surprise.
“You really should eat something before we go,” my mom said as she flicked off the TV.
“No, I don’t think I could.” I stared down at the queries in my hand. The labels my mom had helped make were on pristine white paper to make the addresses in black pop out. “Let’s just mail these.”
On the drive over to the post office, I remember thinking – What if I spelt something wrong? What if I should have added a phrase here or taken that one out? After working almost a year on the query letter and synopsis, to finally be sending them out made me cringe. I had had to research how to write a query letter and synopsis. From there I had tried to master it. Seven drafts and a year later I had thought I had made them perfect, but I was having doubts as my mom and I drove to the post office.
A couple minutes later they were all sent out. It felt as though my heart went with them as well. Every day I checked the mail and my e-mail. Six weeks later I received my first answer. It was through the mail.
There was no return address on the envelope. My heart sank until it hit the floor and shattered. I had only to take one look to find the word ‘unfortunately’ in the letter. They had rejected my book – rejected me. The letters and emails continued for the next couple of weeks. All of them held the word ‘unfortunately’.
“Unfortunately we don’t feel…”
“Unfortunately your book is not what we are looking for at this time…”
Each response was phrased in a kind way, but as I read them now I have a feeling they probably skimmed through my query. All the responses are quick and impersonal. I wish they had given me feedback about what I did wrong, but I also understand they are extremely busy.
Rejection is hard to deal with. It makes me feel insignificant, but as time passes I am learning to accept the rejection from the agents. For those times when I feel like I have accomplished nothing I read one of the rejection letters and remind myself that I pushed above and beyond what others might do. I have written a book and half of another. I dedicated six years of my life to writing and I would never take that back. I still want to become a published author someday, but maybe now is not the best time. Writing the query letter and synopsis was one of the hardest obstacles I faced with my book. To try and condense a four hundred-page book into a well-crafted one-paper query where I try to convince an agent that my book is their next bestseller was not as easy as I had thought it would be. Even though I did not get my book published I learned so much through the experience. I stuck my foot in the fire, it may have been burned me a little, but it has given me the desire to keep stepping forward.