Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ryne D. Pearson: The 139 Steps

All---

Rejection slips are the butt of jokes made by authors in bleak humor.  Snoopy used to make quilts out of them.  We hate them so much that laughing at them helps us cope.  But those of us looking toward the querying process still dread the day we start getting cold, heartless form rejections.

Successful thriller writer Ryne D. Pearson might have preferred cold, heartless form rejections at the start of his career.  What he got instead were personally crafted letters that disparaged his talent and his book.




One hundred and thirty nine.

That is how many rejections my first novel received before it found an agent. Three weeks later he sold it.

I keep those rejections in an old cardboard manuscript box, tucked in the envelopes in which they came. Each addressed by me as was the norm back in the early 90’s when I was trying to break in. In essence, with each SASE (how I came to hate that acronym) I was facilitating a bit of my soul to be chipped away every time the mailman arrived at my house.

Because, you see, among the standard ‘not right for me at this time’ type of reply, there were many gems that were, well, particularly nasty. Shall I share?

‘You are not talented enough to compete with the thousands of professional writers in this industry...’

‘This is not my type of book, and if it were I would hate it.’

‘Your efforts would be better directed toward other endeavors.’

‘Who do you think you are sending this to me?’

‘Do you have a fireplace?’

‘I am insulted by the violence in this. I do not represent trash.’

Now, there were a few more, but those were the best. And these were not from fringe agencies. All were from respected literary agents, three of whom still work in the industry today.

What did I learn from these responses? Mostly that, in at least a few peoples’ eyes, I suck. But I also learned to take it. To swallow the vitriol and keep going. Why?

Because I didn’t believe them. I believed in myself.

The night after I received rejection #139 I decided to dig back into the novel and see if there was anything more I could do to it. The next morning I pulled out all those neatly typed and stacked pages and began flipping through. Reading it for the hundredth time, it seemed.

Then the phone rang. It was an agent at Curtis Brown who wanted to know if the novel was still available. I set the pages in my hand aside, clicked my pen shut, and sat down.

I was right, and they were wrong.

Ryne Douglas Pearson



Ryne D. Pearson is the author of several thrillers, including Top TenAll For One, and Simple Simon, the novel that was the basis for the Bruce Willis / Alec Baldwin movie Mercury Rising.  He also wrote the screenplay for the 2009 sci fi movie Knowing.  Coming soon, Pearson will be releasing a science fiction short story, "Specimen," and will be releasing two novels this year.  You can follow him on Twitter, where he talks about writing, life, and bacon.

.Nevets.



14 comments:

  1. What a fabulous story, Nevets! I'm so glad you posted it because now I knwo there's is someone who received more rejections than I have and still believed in himself and was proved right. Whew! Just what I needed to here right now in my writing life!! :)
    Judy (South Africa)

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  2. @Judy - That's what I love about this series. It seems like each week, someone out there has needed to hear the story that the profiled author chose to share. If yours is the only comment this post gets, I for one, will still be perfectly satisfied. :) So glad it helped!

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  3. Great story!

    And wow, those agents were mean.

    >_<

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  4. I can't imagine coping with that number of rejections - what perseverance! (BTW, what does SASE stand for?)

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  5. Do you have a fireplace?
    Why was there a need for such put-downs? Civility, even gremlins want them.

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  6. This is so inspiring! 139 rejections? And so much meanness! I honestly don't know if I could have kept going... bravo to Ryne!

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  7. @Misha - No doubt they were! I hope the agents in South Africa treat you much more politely.

    @Frances - I hope I can hang tough like that! Oh, and SASE = Self-Address, Stamped Envelope. It's what what you include with your submission so that the agent or editor doesn't have to waste time or money on your rejection.

    @Yat-Yee - I was floored to read Ryne's story. I can't imagine how someone justifies saying things like that.

    @Jennifer - He triumphed over a level of expressed hatred I hope I sure don't have to face. *shudder*

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  8. Ah! In England we call them just SAE!

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  9. @Frances - The English are so much more efficient with the language!

    @John - So glad you liked it! :)

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  10. OMG, these are so mean but so funny! I would have kept them too. But, in the end, who's laughing. I bet those agents are kicking themselves.

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  11. Wow, I guess it shows we just have to keep on trying! Thanks for sharing Ryne's story with us :)

    Hugs,

    Rach

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  12. Thank you for sharing this with me and us! This is just the sort of thing we writers need to know. It is so possible to believe in oneself when others keep telling you. No, no, no!

    Bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  13. fantastic! And how horrible to receive personalized rejections of that variety! We do have to believe in ourselves, and that's an amazing story of doing so in the face of meanness... Thanks, guys~ :o) <3

    ReplyDelete

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