Lessons of Submission: The Martial Arts of Hitting ‘Send’

At summer camp ages ago, I learned Judo, the “martial arts of falling,” as my instructor put it. To oversimplify, in Judo one learns to take people down – so, naturally, one must also learn to hit the ground, because everybody has to lose if they are going to learn.

As a preteen, I was astounded to learn that by hitting the ground with your hand – before your body followed – helped to arrest your momentum and control your collision in a way that kept you from experiencing pain. Falling had always been one of those infallible things to me – unstoppable once instigated, its resolution was one of scrapes and bruises. But all things, it seems, have their art.

Submitting to agents this past week was like learning Judo. I compiled each query painstakingly, tailoring them to the agents I was most excited to work with, throwing in different numbers of pages, and even writing up a bio and synopsis (who knew so many agents wanted synopses? One agent declared that they were evil, to which I agree wholeheartedly). The compilation of each query was the fall before impact, the prelude to failure – because we all know rejections are a thing.

But then, after triple-checking my subject line, the agent’s email, the spacing between my synopsis and bio – all the thoughts raging through my head, “Will this even work? Is this even worth it?” – I hit “Send” as if hitting the ground, and suddenly there is no impact. I have completed the task, and, unharmed, I move onward to the next agent in line.

I’ll just have to have my clicking hand ready for “Archive” once the rejections come rolling in 🙂

And So It Begins (The Failure Parade)

I’m not doing too hot at this blog-writing thing. One post in months. I picture the small unnamed monster from Monster’s Inc. slapping his large partner and crying, “Keep it together, man!” Well, I took a day off work on 5/15 to submit my very first serious queries to a select group of agents. Now I have to get the blog going, start a Twitter, etc.

Of course, I expect only rejections. I was always a little thrilled by the thought of getting rejections, probably because of the mental image of Stephen King as a young man, poking his rejection letters through a railroad spike, affixed to the wall above his desk. I would like to do something similar, but I’ll have less paper this time around – it will probably just be me printing out canned responses, “It’s not right for us, but someone else might feel differently”, carbon imprint be cored.

My father once received a Tibetan prayer flag in the mail, from a nonprofit asking for money. It was a plain white string with colored paper flags glued over it, evenly spaced, different colors but all the same gold design. I’d like to hang my rejections that way, the same words but perhaps I will color them, or have my grandmother paint her lovely whimsical designs on them, and let them flutter above my desk, reminding me that a rejection is still a step in this path I have never walked before.

A success is just a success, a source of pride, a movement forward – but a failure can teach us much more. Better to parade them than fear them. Better to let them flutter than burn.