Sunday, September 18, 2011


“It can be depressing when no one takes interest, and a lack of response makes the writer question why they’re writing at all. To have one’s writing rejected is like you, yourself, are being rejected. ” ~ Lizz Clements

Got my second rejection from an agent Saturday morning while lying in bed. There I was, buried beneath my comforter and sheets the way I always bury myself in sleep, when I heard my phone signal I had an email. So, groggily rubbing my eyes, I cracked them open just long enough to see the beginning of the email ...

"Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to read your submission.  I appreciate you considering me for representation of your project. Unfortunately, after careful review, I have decided that I might not be the right agent for your work ... "

I let out a soft groan, turned off my phone, rolled over and fell back asleep.

Granted, this is only the fourth agent I've submitted to -- there are hundreds in various genres my novel could technically fit I have yet to submit to. One ended up wanting to read more, but a published author I stay in touch with and trust told me to steer clear of him after reading his fee requirements, another told me the same as the above and the fourth I have yet to hear from. Obviously, rejection, in whatever form, be it love, academia, family, society, writing, is never easy to take. For some people, it's crippling. Not for me. Perhaps it's in reading about how many rejections very successful writers and authors have had before they finally broke through the chained glass. 

Perhaps it's partly from me learning how to accept rejection and turn it into something constructive instead of letting it destruct me. Whatever the reason, I'm going with it. And on some levels, each letter feels like a skinned knee or when I bust a knuckle punching my boxing bag ... it hurts, but it feels good at the same time, because it happened during something productive, during something that makes me feel alive. I don't think I'd want to get any of my major work published without obtaining a few scars along the way. I want to feel a little dirt caked on my skin, to feel the hurting, elating itch of constructive criticism. I want to falter for a minute and use my strength to pull myself back up again. Because I know inside I'll punch through that glass eventually ... and until then, I'll just keep writing.

The prologue of my novel:

The aged stone walls were dewy with last night’s rain, the dank scent of mold seeping from the dark corners of the room. But the rest of the dilapidated enclosure blazed red from the fire outside the barred windows. She shuddered, her bones suddenly icy with fear.
The ropes around her wrists cut into her damp skin, causing her to wince and grit her teeth. The pebbles growled beneath her as she dragged her bare, cut and calloused feet under her legs, hugging her dirt-caked knees to her chest.
Hearing the scuffle, the guard turned his surly face and pursed lips her way, revealing severe, yet placid eyes that seemed to look straight through her. Whatever spell she was accused of having on others didn’t seem to stretch its gnarled claws his way.
She sniffled and he turned away, looking at the entrance once more, her presence nothing but an afterthought. Slowly, she began rocking back and forth, the rhythmical movement providing a tangent of solace. Though the barbed tentacles of terror pierced her parched throat, somehow her vocal chords found vibration. She began to hum a soft, low melody her mother used to sing to her as a child, after waking from the dark grasp of a nightmare. Its rich, mournful notes laced with sharps and flats brought chills down the guard’s spine, though his expression remained blank.
Chains, crimson with rust, sliced into her ankles and clanked against the cold, muggy floor. She could hear both screams and cheers outside the sole window of her cell, as though a riot were brewing. Each crackle of the fire, as logs collapsed beneath its scalding flames, seemed to puncture her skin.
Suddenly, the creaking strain of a door slashed through her dismal song, jarring her attention to the caged entrance of her cell. She heard footsteps approaching and felt the familiar tingling of his energy filtering through the bars and into her body, causing her heart to jump and her breath to violently catch.
Slowly, with precision and stifling pain, she stood, gripping the bars to provide balance as the tattered remains of a once vibrant peasant skirt shook around her legs. Her chestnut hair fell loosely down her back and shoulders. Its dark, wavy, auburn tendrils playfully tickled the hairs upon her arms and framed her mystic eyes, now fiery embers of emotion.
And just like that, he was there.
The older looking guard escorting him stepped back, allowing a moment of privacy not required.
His turgid eyes locked with hers, and then briefly left their hold to gently skim over her shoulders, collar bone and delicate neck. A place his swollen lips had traced not but days earlier now tarnished with dry blood from the ropes that had dragged her from the warm haven of a bed to this perdition.
He swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple softly rising and falling under her steady gaze. His body shuddered from the sudden jolt of electricity as her eyes once again met his, now glistening with anger from the damage done to her – this beautiful creature he had given up everything for.
Her glowing irises mirrored his, emanating anguish over the bruises soiling his angelic forehead, shoulders and cracked ribs, all places her clement skin had grazed fervidly not long ago. All places she had memorized down to each exquisite freckle and scar.
Before another breath was expelled, he stepped a shackled leg forward and brought his tied hands to the sole bar in front of him, grasping her trembling fingers and closing all space between them. The original guard started forward, but was stopped by the sharp arm and fierce look of the second. 
Gently squeezing her hand, his lips hungrily dove into hers, eagerly swimming in her energy. She softly parted them with the tip of her tongue, intertwining with his and igniting their hearts. The fiery glow that seemed worlds away whipped through the window and lit the tear streaming down his right cheek before glinting off the ones searing across both of hers.
The older guard cleared his throat, bursting the bubble and jolting them both from the trance.
“It’s time,” the man simply said, stepping forward and grasping his right upper arm. 
Nothing could be done. They both knew it. 
“I love you,” he whispered violently, his body pulled back by both guards, shattering his grip from her hands, her pulse.
“I love you,” she managed through cracked vocal chords.
 And just like that, he was gone. 
A tremulous breath captured her, buckling her knees and sending her cascading to the floor, crippled by an excruciating agony planted in the depths of her core. Waves of sorrow rolled through her, tossing her body into billows of misery she could no longer control.
The crowd grew more boisterous, which could only mean his presence was made known amongst them.
A sharp click of the cell door pulled her from her bout with despondency, sending her head jerking toward the guard entering what little space she had left, like poison pervading a vein.
He bent down to pick her up, but her eyes shot up to his, stopping him in his tracks.
He backed up slightly, his face no longer a blank slate, but filled with apprehension and uncertainty for something foreign to him.
Lethargically, she made her way to her tender feet, rattling the chains around her ankles. But her sound calf muscles fluidly contracted, sending her body forward and the guard following suit behind, not daring to touch her flaming skin.
She exited the cell and walked down the short, decrepit hallway, past two more empty cells on her right. Then, the giant, heavy oak prison door swung open, pouring smoke-filled dusk air into her lungs and causing the crowd to burst into more cries and shouts. 
She paused and exhaled, shaking her mane of chocolate locks out of her face and wiping her eyes with her bound wrists. 
Then she took a soft, graceful step forward.
The cluster of onlookers divided, making a path to the wooden steps 20 feet ahead. Some eyes cast to the dusty ground in fear, others looking her dead on, hate in their charcoal pupils, while others gave fleeting glances of sadness and compassion. 
Words of hate were spit at her along with prayers spiraling at her feet.
But she paid no attention to any of this. She was looking for one pair of eyes, and only one.
She found them.  
Surrounded by four armed guards, he stood, his oceanic, helpless irises fastened to hers. As she floated up the steps, it was as though everyone was enraptured by silence. Neither of them heard anything, only the potent heart beat of the other.
The guard behind her untied her wrists, tersely pulling her arms backward to bind them once more around the wooden pole pressed firmly against her spine. Her teeth clenched in pain, but her eyes remained locked on his, her lips slightly parted and still swollen from his kiss.
Heat from the blaze around her grazed her skin and hair, setting her dark eyes ablaze. Gasps were heard from onlookers brave enough to gander. The very priest who condemned her – who had said he, too, had succumbed to her spell, allowing its essence to fill his mind with unholy thoughts – stood cold and black at the bottom of the steps. 
“Any last words?” He asked, guilt like venom dripping from his mouth.
Yet her gaze never wavered. She kept her eyes on the stormy spheres of her mirrored soul.
And the world around her dispersed into the flames.

 ~ C ~

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