For years, I’ve posted a dog photo on social media for every writing rejection I get. I post my nos because they are regular, ordinary; it’s the yeses that are flukes and outliers. I want to be transparent about the ratios for the yeses, particularly for earlier-stage writers who might believe once you reach some point in a career it’s a Slip N’ Slide of yes, of opportunity. I want them to see that we all work the same grooves, hoping it will end differently just because it might. As for the dogs, they’re the only things that can reliably turn a mood for me.
Yet, in the sixteen months since my novel went out on submission to publishers in early March 2020, I haven’t posted a single dog for it.
It seems a distinctly American story to believe it’s a mark of greatness to be rejected, that a narrative of struggle makes the art itself more worthy.
I wanted to write this essay before the book’s fate was sealed, from the mucky and often-silent middle we like to skip over in favor of how it ends, as if we are only our results and not the waiting for them, which is its own complicated story, the one we live in longer than the moment of knowing if we should celebrate or mourn.
What I need you to see, too, is that if I don’t get the redemptive ending, I won’t talk about the decade I spent from novel conception to completion as non-existent, or worse, failed, just because no one bought it. I don’t want to be erased by the bad ending, either.