Another Day in Long Beach — Networking, Confronting Rejection, and Chaos Theory
Posted on August 9, 2012
It’s impossible to know whom I’m going to meet during my writing journey. It’s impossible to predict the turns and outcomes of certain roads. And it’s impossible to understand the repercussions of my actions and decisions, but it helps to try and predict them and be realistic, right? This seems, to me, the leading cause of fear – uncertainty of the future.
But there might be another way to perceive uncertainty without feeling anxiety. For example, instead of freaking out about not knowing the future, I could choose to see the unknown as a positive.
Like my buddy Nick Garnett said to me when I moved to Los Angeles: “You shouldn’t worry about the outcome,” he said, driving in his Alpha Romero. I was leaving in a week. “Be excited to find out what’s going to happen.”
Well, I can’t say that I live without anxiety. It’s there. But one way to get rid of that anxiety, I have found, is to be out in nature, take my dog to the beach, go on a run, and, most importantly, believe in a positive outcome.
Okay, okay, enough of the motivational speech crap. It’s just that right now I feel good. I have been sending out e-mails, telling people about my plan, and asking them if they need any help. And I have come across some people who are excited about their publications. It looks like I might be able to contribute. (Not going to reveal any names. I just feel weird about that.) It’s just a great feeling to find that when you put your voice out there, someone answers. And you never know who is going to answer.
Now, it’s time for me to tell you about some rejection I had recently. Like I wrote in the previous post, I’m trying to publish my book. And in April of this year, I was lucky enough to have a very excellent literary agent respond favorably to my query letter – a short letter explaining my book. After the agent reads the query letter, they either request a partial (usually around 50 pages) or the full manuscript. When an agent requests the full manuscript, well, that’s a big deal.
And this agent was my dream agent. Well, one of my dream agents. And months went by without a response. It took her three months to respond to my initial query anyway. I pretty much gave up on her, thinking she passed on the book without saying anything, but last Friday, I saw her e-mail in my inbox.
When I saw her name, I scrolled through my phone, pushed the e-mail button, and waited while my old phone loaded the message. Finally, the e-mail opened, and I started to read. After a few sentences, I knew it was a rejection. I knew she had passed on the book. I knew months of waiting were over without a reward.
But as I read the e-mail, it turned out that it was a positive rejection. In fact, she liked the book. She was upset that she had to pass on the book, because she could tell I was a talented writer. She just couldn’t figure out a way to revise the book, without changing the qualities she liked, to appeal to major publishing houses. She suggested I try independent houses, which she knew nothing about.
In the end, what I took away was that she – and this is agent speak – didn’t fall in love.
Throughout the course of my life, how many people have I come across? How many of those people did I make eye contact with? And how many of those people did I start a conversation with? Aren’t there 6 billion people in the world? Holy smokes, how do I ever make connections? How do I ever network? How do we ever find that right person who is going to help our careers, our friends, our loved ones? Seriously, I found my dog in the Detroit-Metro pound. He literally barged into the pound with his old owner and jumped into my lap. How did that happen?
I guess what I’m trying to say is, there are people out there I feel we are supposed to come across. I always think of chaos theory and Newton’s laws. Chaos theory, to me, is the inability to predict, mathematically, outcomes. We are unable to predict the spread of cancer cells, because the process happens at such a fast rate. Or we’re unable to see the connections between the circumstances leading up to a person’s decision to delay a plane departure time and then running into a friend in a foreign country in some tiny coffee shop or the million tiny chain reactions needed to place a car on a collision course with a man on the way to the grocery store. But just because we can’t see or predict the connections, does that mean there isn’t one?