The Art of Subjectivity

I want to give up.

I want to stop writing.

I’ve come to the conclusion that nobody will ever believe in me. Nobody is willing to give me a chance.

^ Familiar feelings for any writer in the middle of the horrifying querying process.

My work isn’t exciting enough. It isn’t unique enough. It isn’t smart enough. The characters aren’t quite right. This doesn’t work. That doesn’t fit. In a world of David Levithan’s and Bill Konigsberg’s, you have to stand out and be different and I don’t like this, change it, change it, CHANGE.

That’s my favorite part about literary agents. Scratch that, that’s my favorite part about this whole process: everything is so incredibly subjective. Agents think that they have a right to say what you should and shouldn’t do with MY work. “I love your writing, but I don’t like the beginning because I’m tired of drunk teens.” Well, if all you got out of it was drunk teens, then you’re not reading hard enough. If you love my writing style, then why would you want to change it? Moreover, if you already want to change things so badly, then why request to read the entirety of my novel just to shoot me down?

Yes, everything is so subjective, blah blah blah. An agent has love your work to be it’s best advocate, blah blah blah. But I’m tired of getting shot down. Is that ok? Can I voice that opinion? Can I say that I’m fucking so incredibly over having agent after agent express interest, then getting the oh-so-expected rejection?

Most of the time, I want to say “let’s save ourselves the trouble and just reject me right now because it’s an obvious inevitability.”

But I know that’s not the case. I’ve heard all the horror stories about querying. I know the Golden Rule of One: All it takes is ONE. One Agent. One Ring to Rule Them All. I’ve written about it. I repeat it verbatim to my fellow writers who are also in the midst of querying with great gusto and conviction: THAT ONE WILL COME! #truth.

But there is only so much false hope I can take.

The last agent who spawned this rant originally expressed interest in my novel after reading my query letter, but in his interest, he added: “I hope that is it more than a coming out novel.”

Right off the bat, he was expecting more, but it was like his bar for ME as a writer was automatically set low. With the request of the first 50 pages, he also requested a summary of any other projects that I’m working on; I sent him a synopsis of the new book I just started writing, of which I have almost 70 pages written.

He read the first 50 pages of my complete manuscript and, in his emailed critique, judged my character’s arcs based on 1/5 of the novel in his critique. He also said that it wasn’t “new” or “fresh” but proceeded to request the rest of the manuscript. Ok, at least he wants to see more. Maybe he doesn’t want to judge an entire character’s arc based on 50/240 pages. Seems like an honest guy. He also said he would be willing to discuss the entire novel with me once he’s read it.

Obviously I was hoping for the best because what writer wouldn’t jump for joy at that point: Maybe he sees something in me that he’d be willing to go out on a limb for. Happens all the time!

Nope. Got what is quite possible my most favorite rejection this morning.

I’m afraid that this is going to be a pass for me, alas. The more I read the more I knew that this wasn’t going to work for me: I just didn’t love Chase [my main character] or his voice enough, and then at times I kept feeling that I was hearing your voice come through the characters so much more than their own natural ones.

My reaction: fuck you, fuck you, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand fuck you.

I’m sorry to have to pass on this, but if you begin to circulate NEW BOOK TITLE HERE (without A KEY COMPONENT OF THE BOOK THAT I MENTIONED IN MY SYNOPSIS THAT I DON’T WANT TO GIVE AWAY HERE BECAUSE I’M SUPERSTITIOUS) one day, please do think of me. 


No, Mr. Agent, I won’t think of you when I start to query my next project because you already wanted me to change something THAT WASN’T EVEN WRITTEN YET. SERIOUSLY?

I get that everything is this godforsaken business is subjective, but this dude took it too far.

No, Mr. Agent, I would never want you as my agent anyway because I would constantly feel like the unwanted child in the family: malnourished, under-developed, unappreciated, and never good enough. You would never be able to give me the creative nourishment that any writer would need to thrive. You would hinder my growth.

You would take my soul, just like you tried to do with your backhanded compliments

You would be the worst thing for me.

I’m glad you passed me up. I’m thankful for this inevitable rejection.

Like a bad, unhealthy relationship, I’m glad this is over.

Now, all I have to do is wait for the next bundle of subjective rejection.

If the next one ever comes.

In the meantime, I just need to keep reminding myself to keep writing, to keep trying, to stop wanting to give up.

Giving up would be the hardest thing I could ever do.


  1. Definitely never ever ever ever ever EVER give up. I admire people who even go through this process. I’ve semi-started writing a memoir and would be afraid to even pitch it. Seriously. I have no balls, proverbial or otherwise haha So I admire all the ups and downs you go through, dude!


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