Some are the one-size-fits-all form letter rejections that tell the writer nothing about the publishing industry pro's true thoughts on the work in question. "Thank you for the opportunity to review your work. Unfortunately, at this time, we do not feel it is a good fit for us. Best of luck in placing it elsewhere."
Some rejections are more personal, offering insights on both the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the piece, as seen through the eyes of the rejector.
And then there are the killers. The ones that say things like: "While elements of the story were certainly interesting, and the general premise was OK, unfortunately, I just didn't love it as much as I had hoped."
I can't speak for other writers, but those blasted "I Just Didn't Love It" missives used to sucker punch me. I'd open the email with pathetic hopefulness, then suddenly find myself transported back to high school -- making me all "aww, geez, I didn't get accepted into the popular kids' clique. Waaahhhh!"
For a long time, I thought the IJDLI rejections were the WORST.
Well, no more.
You see, I made the colossal mistake of equating "I just don't love it" with "I just don't love you." Which, of course, is ridiculous. I am not my book. My book is not me. ::Yeesh:: As if.
Strangely enough, it was a reading experience that gave me my writing epiphany.
Lately, I had the opportunity to experience IJDLI from the other side of the Great Writing Divide. A friend recently recommended a novelist -- a terribly accomplished, internationally bestselling writer -- whose tone and sense of humor is a very close match to my own. Though said novelist writes a genre I generally don't read, because of the similarities in our styles, I wanted to acquaint myself further with her works. So I checked out six titles from the library and started to read.
Same twisted sense of comedy: check. Same penchant for writing strong female characters: check. Same loopy approach to plot: yeah, Baby! Check!
But something was... missing.
Maybe it was the genre. Even in the hands of someone so talented, it's Just. Not. My. Thing.
Maybe it was the fact that every time the plot line skewed north, I was more interested in what would have happened if it had gone south. Or east. Or north by northwest.
I finished two of the six books, and got over halfway through three others. And I had to admit that though there was nothing wrong with the writing, the plots, or the execution of ideas, I just didn't love them.
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This clicked on the Lightbulb of Revelation in my dim little brain. Suddenly, I understood exactly what IJDLI means. It means exactly what it says:
"I didn't hate it. I may have liked it. I may, in fact, have really liked it. But it's not something I want to read again. It's not you; it's me. Others may (and probably will) disagree with me on this. But since this isn't a book I can't stop thinking about, I'm going to cut you loose to find someone more passionate about this project."
In other words, it's the literary equivalent of "let's not get into a marriage of convenience. Better far to wait for someone who loves you truly, madly, deeply."
Who, I ask, can quibble with that kind of logic?
I know what it's like to have a long-term relationship a spouse who is one hundred percent crazy about me. It's awesome. It was so worth waiting for. I'm thinking if I receive any more IJDLI rejections, I'll not allow them to kill my optimism or enthusiasm. I'll just keep on keeping on till I find true love. It's out there. Don't give up till you find it!