Since I mentioned before that I had not tasted rejection (for my writing, at least) since seventh grade, it’s only fair to tell you that the streak has been broken. I found upon my return to the Old Country a letter sitting atop the refrigerator. It was a self-addressed stamped envelope with a very polite pre-printed rejection card inside. Let it be known, far and wide, that the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency was the first (thought assuredly not the last) to say no to Jerry Seeger.

Now, I have been saying all along that I expect to be rejected. I’m sending letters to agents who rarely take on unpublished writers. What is more, after I sent in my query I found a more complete list of the titles this particular agent has sold, and they seem to specialize in authors who produce a title every month or two. They are mass market, and while I hope my market is also massive, mine is not the kind of stuff they do every day (only occasionally). They do, however, have relationships with the publishers I want to target.

So the rejection was no surprise. It proves I’m not selling myself short. That’s a good thing.

At the same time, I can’t help but be disappointed. Didn’t they see the obvious quality of the story? The prose as clear and resonant as a church bell sounding out over the peaceful hamlet on a Sunday morning, calling the faithful to prayer? The incisive wit, the lofty intelligence, the visceral descriptions, the heart-rending pathos? What agents would not jump at the chance to fundamentally change their business model when presented with prose of such promise?

Time to start researching the next submission.

13 thoughts on “Rejected!

  1. Ethan Allen? The folks who sell expensive furniture?

    Sad that it was just a form; not much useful feedback at all and not any assurance that calling them would get much info.

    A literary agent change her company’s business model? Hmmm, sounds like something most executive boards wouldn’t try.

  2. agreed on the dodginess of pre-printed rejection cards.
    but look on the bright side: if they’ve gone to the effort of pre-printing a rejection card, they must reject heaps of writers. you could get together with them and form an army. you could take over a small country, bombard their borders with ‘prose as clear and resonant as a church bell sounding out over the peaceful hamlet on a Sunday morning’. that’d send them running….

  3. Dammit! Visitor 31016! If only I hadn’t felt compelled to check my work email when I got into work but had headed straight to MRHBI, I coulda been a contender!

    As it is, visitor 31013 is a egg fryer (Google, “eggs over easy”) from the Shentel Service Company in Blacksburg Virginia. I’ve always heard it was hard to get good fried eggs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

  4. Para 4 reminds me of the over-the-top writing in a Christmas Story. This suggest you should look up Jean Shepherd’s old agent.

  5. For all of you out there waiting breathlessly for a new episode – I’m on a slow connection right now (at the bowling alley) and last time I was here I was halfway posting corrections to the horrible typing in the Rejected! episode when I ran out of electricity. Well, when something goes wrong while publishing, iBlog errs on the side of caution and republishes the whole damn site. So I’m back at the bowling alley, and it looks like my batteries will once again fail before everything is reposted, which means it will start all over again next time. When I get to a faster connection I’ll straighten everything out.

  6. One more ‘one more thing’ (batteries willing): (After this aside – battery is a collection. batteries implies more than one group of things. I have only a battery.)

    Right. Time running out. Connection dodgy. TYPE, man! Type like the wind!

    gizo – right on with that army thing. If we all get together then




  7. My computer keeps telling me my battery is out of juice, but it keeps going and going and going. It looks like this place will close down before my computer does!

  8. And it did, although Two Bulls would probably have kept it open past midnight if his son-in-law hadn’t insisted on going home.

  9. I used the search feature on the sidebar for the first time looking for “AP English,” “LAHS,” “English class,” and even “Campbell,” but to no avail. Therefore, without a more appropriate place to post, I post here, in response to Carol Ann(e), probably the most likely to be interested in the following information:

    For survivors of LAHS AP English 11th Grade (English Lit), you may be interested in watching Masterpiece Theater this and subsequent weeks as they tackle “Bleak House.” “Bleak House” was for me one of a few seminal books in school (another was “Once and Future King” in 9th grade) that opened spectacular new vistas and sent me off into an orgy of reading related material. In this case, Dickens.

  10. Keith, it’s Carol Anne WITH the e.

    But yes, when I saw that Masterpiece Theatre was doing Bleak House, with none other than Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock, well, who could resist?

    OK, there are a few problems. I don’t have TiVo, and I do have other obligations. I’m hoping that PBS will offer the video for sale before too long.

    Meanwhile, just reading the article in the newspaper about the production brought back memories. Oh, the mornings in Ms. Campbell’s class, discussing the plot and the characters …

    Yes, it was that and a whole lot of similar experiences that led to me being an English teacher now, even if I don’t get to do a whole lot with literature at this moment.

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