Let me start this by clearly stating that I don’t believe any editor ever sets out with the intent to end a creative’s career aspirations. Sometimes it just works out that way, and this is one of those times. Politely worded rejections are generally intended to be semicolons, a pause on the way to something better. However it was intended, this rejection ended up being a full stop for me.
I know there are those of you who don’t believe that I should give up on writing, but I disagree. I’ll even go so far as to tell you why. The Americans With Disabilities Act doesn’t apply to writers who are submitting their work to editors at major publishers. There’s no way she could have known her rejection would be the end for me. There’s no way she could know about the demons I battle on a daily basis. There’s no way she could know that I’m mentally ill, and what I needed more than anything was to catch a break.
Instead, I got broken. I can’t do this anymore. I no longer have the strength or the drive to keep trying. She couldn’t have known that over ten years of trying would end with her “Unfortunately, after careful consideration of your manuscript, we have determined that it does not fit our needs.”
She had no way of knowing that I would hear, “You’re never going to be good enough,” in those words. She had no way of knowing that I’ve struggled with a lifetime of feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. You cannot compel people to feel empathy for situations they know nothing about. She can’t know that I’ve spent my whole life struggling with anxiety, Type II Bipolar, ADD, and sensory processing disorder. She can’t know that postpartum depression tends to be worse for women with Type II Bipolar.
She can’t know that when she said, “I love the concept of a reunion romance, and while I think a reunion is a good setting for an erotic romance, HOMECOMING doesn’t quite fit what we’re looking for in the erotic shorts program,” I would hear, “Please stop embarrassing yourself and never submit anything to anyone again. You’re human garbage, and a total waste of time,” instead.
She can’t know that when she said, “Ideal content for the erotic shorts program has a very high heat level, with a majority of the focus on sex scenes and the sexual journey of the characters,” that she was cementing every single insecurity I’ve ever had. She never intended to help the demons win. That’s just how it happened to work out.
She can’t know that, “Right now, HOMECOMING has a lot of story detail, including the hero and heroine’s backstories and the publicist subplot, that I’d advise expanding into a contemporary novella rather than trying to fit everything into a short,” translated to, “Stop while you’re ahead, kid. You’ve never been good enough, and you never will be. Just let it go. Stop dreaming and do something useful with your life because you’re definitely not writer material.”
She can’t know that by the time I read, “That way you’ll be able to give the romance a bit more time to play out naturally, let the characters get to know each other without rushing,” I was curled up in a ball on my bathroom floor, sobbing uncontrollably. She can’t know that it lasted for hours.
She can’t know that my depression is back full force because I read the words, “Though we aren’t able to accept this manuscript, it is always possible that future manuscripts may find a home with us, and we hope you’ll consider us for future submissions.” She can’t know that I feel like that’s a lie because I know, deep down, I’m not a good enough writer to make the cut. She can’t know that I just can’t handle the heartache because I can’t afford to be deathly depressed when I have a baby to take care of, a husband to love, and a house I’m supposed to keep clean. I can’t keep getting my heart broken by this dream because that heartbreak leaves me lying in bed, unable to move under the crippling depression.
She can’t know that “Additionally, please remember that publishing is quite subjective, and what doesn’t work for one publisher may work for another so we wish you the best of luck in placing this manuscript elsewhere,” really sounded like, “You weren’t good enough for us so you won’t be good enough for anyone else either. Just give up now. Stop trying because all you do is get hurt, and disappoint everyone in your life.”
She can’t know that “Thank you for your interest in working with Carina Press,” translated to, “Thanks for making a fool of yourself, kid. Thanks for letting everyone see you fail and laugh at your expense. It was a real kick. Now, go home and burn everything you’ve ever written because none of it is good enough.”
She can’t know that I’m sick, twisted, drowning in debt, and tired of having my soul shattered by dreams that don’t come true. All I can tell you is that I’m done.