Querying is basically the most terror-invoking process ever. And I still don't know how to write a perfect query! I've read lots and lots about what agents prefer, and the main thing I've learned is that agents are like English professors. If I wrote in this particular style for Prof. X, I'd get an A. If I gave that same paper to Prof. Y, I'd get a C. It's the same with agents. I think. Then again, I don't really know what I'm doing, so...
I'm just going to go ahead and casually segue into the amount of rejections I've received. The current magic number is 10. Every time I tell my mom I got another rejection, she reminds me of how many J.K. Rowling got. The number changes. At first it was 8, and then 18, and then 12, and now I'm just convinced that Rowling never actually got rejected. That sly devil.
The first time I received a rejection email, my heart coiled into a spiral of ice. Yes, that was dramatic, but that's what happened. It was very awkward. I was at work, at the front desk on the second floor, and in walks half of the department because turns out there's a meeting that was scheduled twenty seconds after I read the email. Thanks, library. In walks my boss, and I'm trying to look normal by keeping my eyes extremely wide in a non-psychopathic way.
Be normal. Don't say anything. Greet your boss and discreetly wipe your eyes on your sleeve.
"I JUST GOT MY FIRST REJECTION EMAIL," I shout instead.
My boss looks startled, probably wondering about the deranged girl yelling at him. Then he realizes it's me and puts on his most sympathetic face. I was very proud of him in that moment. That is, until he decides that it would be funny to make "you should be used to rejection by now" jokes from that moment forth. ("I figured you wouldn't be upset that Qdoba is leaving Jacksonville, since you should be used to rejection by now.")
NOT FUNNY. Okay, it was slightly funny.
The biggest thing I've learned from this whole writing/rejection process is how to laugh at myself. For instance: In my first draft of The Trace, Ella has this super dramatic and emotional soliloquy right after she finds out about Kara. She goes to the roof of the Academy and suddenly turns into Emerson's embarrassing sister who no one ever talks about. I'm pretty sure I had a sentence that goes something like, "One would think the morning birds were an annoyance, but the trees yawned in brotherly fondness." *grimacing squirm* When Nathan read that whole three pages which meticulously described how the birds awoke the rest of the forest, he gave me a look, said, "Um," and then started laughing. At first I was so offended that anyone dared insult my writing. Then I realized that Ella isn't a poet, and I'm certainly not, so why was she being so freaking reflective? Her friend was just kidnapped! Stop analyzing the relationship between birds and trees and go DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE.
The thing is, if I can't laugh at my own writing, what will I do when someone else does? Now, I'm not saying that as I'm sitting on the fourth floor of the library writing this, my toes are quivering with mirth. First off, that would be a strange physiological response. Second off, I'm not writing a novel. I'm not trying to have these poignant or real or life-changing sentences. I'm basically vomiting all over the keyboard and transferring that into legible sentences. I'm not so worried about what people are going to think if they read this. But, when I'm writing my stories, I'm going to end up writing some pretty humiliating sentences. That's just going to happen, and I can pretend it won't or I can accept the crap that comes out of my fingertips. Embrace it. Laugh at it. Rewrite it. And then realize that, even though I rewrote the crap into what I thought was miles better, someone else is going to read it and think that I'm Emerson's dog who lost all his toes and his ability to see but felt the need to write anyway. And that's okay. 'Cause that's life. And, since my conclusion has to relate in some fashion to my thesis, that has to be my attitude while querying and receiving rejections. Many people are going to think that my weird ideas should have stayed tucked away inside my brain. But one day, some person equally as weird will think, "Hmm. Weird. Let's see where this goes."
And then off we go.