Songs for the Struggling Artist


Medusa Long Shot Rocket Rejection

I started working on my Medusa play sometime around when I started my theatre company, which was close to 18 years ago. I abandoned the play after doing a reading of it but then picked it back up a few years ago when an actor, who’d read one of the parts that first time, asked after it. I don’t know if it had been a full decade at that point but the fact that it had stuck with him after so long made me feel like it was worth grappling with.

After much wrestling, I got the play into shape and did a reading in Brooklyn and after it, I felt like I still wasn’t sure if it was worth anything. One of my listeners pointed out that I might not really know what was actually there until I had the exact right actors. He suggested I think big.

I knew who I needed. As the person who gave the single best performance I have ever seen, I knew that hearing HER read it would tell me everything needed to know. I also knew that in order to have that happen, I needed to make the play good enough for her. I imagined her reading it as I was writing and the play got better.

I did another reading in Queens with a game group of lovely actors and I got even closer to what I thought the play wanted to be. All along I was thinking of this sort of lodestar of a performer and how to get it to her, how to connect with her, how to strategize for this play’s future.

As time went by, the play was selected as a semi-finalist for the O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference but went no further. All of my attempts to make a connection with my Medusa lodestar failed.

Then I saw that she’d be performing in a public park – so I printed out a copy and brought it with me in case I could be brave enough to give it to her. I was. I was brave enough and it was mortifying. Completely and totally mortifying. I don’t recommend this sort of experience to anyone. But – even though she wouldn’t take the stack of paper in the moment, she told me to send it to her agent. And believe me, it had been suggested to me to send it to her agent before but that information is not particularly easy for an outsider to find so the principal value in standing before the actual person was that I could ask her who her agent was. Then began the tricky task of finding her agent’s information. You realize, when diving in to this sort of world, that so much of it is designed to intimidate and keep you out. The world of agents is built to make it difficult to find them. There are services you can pay to simply get an email.

But with the support of a clever friend, I finally got to the agent. Also, with a lot of coaching from my clever friend, I did some finely crafted emailing to just get this play to the woman who had been its muse. After about a week of back and forth, it was, in fact sent to her.

Just getting that far felt like a great leap. It wasn’t just the labor of the week to get it to her – but the years of putting it on my list to figure out and all the attempts before. I launched the rocket into space.

Within days, the rocket fell to earth as I heard back that the play was not for her.

Strangely, given how intimidating the world around agents is, the rejection was one of the best I’ve received. It was succinct, clear and gentle. I wonder if that agents learn that skill because they never really want to give anyone a hard no. What if Julie Taymor suddenly decided to put my Medusa on at the National Theatre with a million dollar salary? Would my muse be interested then? She might. Or at least there might be another conversation to be had.

So weirdly, I find myself wishing other rejectors could be more like an actor’s agent. Reject us like you might have to make a million dollar deal with us next time – because you just never know.

Meanwhile, here I am watching my last real hope for this play float away. I know it makes no sense to set a bubble of hope on an actor’s interest but it was literally the only idea I had for the future of this play. I can’t produce it myself. It’s too big for the resources I can gather. It’s not the kind of show you can do at your local community playhouse.

So…this particular rejection hit me hard – even though I knew it was a long shot. It was the longest shot. And it’s going to take some time to gather the strength to build another rocket – or even just a wagon. It’s going to take some time to reassemble some hope. Maybe it’ll be another ten years. Or maybe never at all.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Want to help me keep building metaphorical rockets?

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Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

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Impressive Rejection Turnaround

For the first time since beginning this querying process for my novel for young people, I encountered an agent who preferred her queries on paper through the mail. After Query Manager portals and numerous emails with pasted in book chapters, it was kind of nice to suddenly be dealing with paper again, even though it did require a lot more fussing with margins and watermarks and headers and footers than I’ve had to do in a while.

Anyway – after much noodling with my printer, I sent out a simple letter to an agent. She asked for nothing – no sample pages – just a synopsis.
And within the week, via email, I had my rejection. It was a pretty good one, I have to say. Clear concise and not in the least bit personal.

Also – in being rejected via only the synopsis, it’s harder to take the rejection personally. It’s not my writing, then, really, that she’s rejecting – it’s just she doesn’t want to even read that book. Done and dusted.

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Also – Another Decent Rejection

The most recent literary agent rejection was pretty well done. It acknowledged that rejections were not fun to receive (or send) and said that she needed to really fall in love with something and it didn’t happen here.

I can totally live with that. Falling in love is very personal and I fully understand that not every one will fall in love with me and/or my work. I think it’s a great way to describe it.

Would I LIKE for everyone to be in love with me? Of course I would. I’m an artist. And one who began my artistic career as an actor – being loved by everyone is the dream. But. I know it doesn’t happen that way and I would certainly rather have an agent who IS in love with my book. It might never happen, of course. But not everyone gets a love story.

 

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

 

Want to help ease the sting of rejection?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or you can buy me a coffee on Kofi –ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis

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Why the Literary Agent Rejections Tend to Sting More
March 31, 2019, 6:49 pm
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , , ,

These rejections from literary agents aren’t getting any easier, my friends. The most recent one came as a result of a pitch on Twitter on #PitMad.

I think these rejections may sting more than the theatrical/residency/grant ones I’m used to because they come from individual people. Because they don’t come from organizations, they lack the sort of boilerplate responses that I’ve come to recognize. Each individual literary agent has their own unique way to tell you that they do not like your work. Theatres, playwriting awards, residency orgs, grantmakers all seem to have ways to say NO without saying “Your work sucks.” They say “We received soooo many submissions” or “It was very competitive” or “unfortunately, you were not selected.” (This one is my favorite. Legitimately. It’s the closest to the simple rejection I crave – just a postcard that says “Nope” or “Not this time.”)

But no such niceties appear in the literary rejection. This one said, “While I found your premise compelling, I’m afraid I wasn’t as caught up in the writing and story as I’d hoped.” Now…I know this shit is subjective as hell – but as a Super Sensitive Artist, (SSA – trademarked) I have the ability to turn a relatively bland and probably truthful statement into a broad condemnation of my worth as a writer. Failing to catch someone with my words feels like a big failure! How am I supposed to improve my ability to make someone feel caught up? I don’t know!

My logical brain knows that whether or not someone is caught up has nothing to do with my worth. My logical brain knows that my work will not and does not speak to everyone and is absolutely fine with that. I am not for everyone. My work is not for everyone and it’s a fairly simple metric, really. I need to send it out to find the people who do like it and the people who don’t like it have to find a way to tell me they don’t like it – even if it hurts my feelings. I know that. But it still stings. The feeling part of me wants everyone to love it. She wants universal praise and acceptance. The logical mind knows that that’s not possible – but the feelings do not care for logic.

I don’t envy the job of a literary agent. It is not fun sending out rejections and a large percentage of emails they send likely have to be that. I’m not sure how I would LIKE to be rejected in this context. A postcard that just says “Nope” is probably not an option. I’m trying to imagine a rejection email that would both make me feel good about the person doing the rejecting and not bad about myself. I feel like it’s something along the lines of “Thank you for sending me your book. I can’t take it on but I wish you the best.” Finito.

I mean, I think a literary agent has to REALLY love a book to take it on. It’s a big commitment. I understand that not everyone wants to do that and that they have to tell me so in the clearest fashion they can muster. My feelings will probably be hurt. I just wish there were a way to go through this process without so much of that.

 

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

The digital distribution deal I had is expiring, so I’m also raising funds to keep the songs up there. If you’d like to contribute, feel free to donate anywhere but I’m tracking them on Kofi – here: ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis

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Want to help ease the sting of rejection?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Some Rejections and Some Math

Last year, my Medusa play was a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’ Neill Playwrights Conference. Given how establishment the conference is and how anti-establishment my work feels to me, I was shocked to get that far.

Also, last year, my play Errors Before Errors, written for American Shakespeare Center’s Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries contest was chosen for the finals. It ultimately went nowhere but…for a moment, visions of an anachronistic homecoming and a living writer’s wage flashed before my eyes. When I applied to the Eugene O’Neill again, in the fall, I submitted the play that had been (almost) successful at the ASC. It seemed like a good strategy to push forth a previously successful(ish) work. The rejection arrived in the mail and it had not even made the semi-finals. What works for one company does nothing for another.

Also in the mail, I received the expected New Dramatist’s rejection. For my more successful playwriting peers, that is the rejection that tends to sting the hardest. For me, it barely registers – so far outside the circle am I. It could be a life changer, for sure, if it were ever to come to pass. But the rejection was not at all unexpected.

Finally, I learned about The Great Plains Theatre Conference from a local booking agent. I thought maybe she was just talking up her local theatre thing but it turns out the GPTC is pretty prestigious and whatnot. It’s good that I applied but, surprise! I was rejected.

I feel like this rejection post is somewhat unusual in that all of these rejections are for playwriting. Usually, it’s much more of a mix. I don’t know whether I’m concentrating on playwriting more or whether it just shook down this way. I do think the two almost yeses I got last year did push me a little more in this direction. Whether that’s for good or ill, I do not know. I’ll let you know if people suddenly start clamoring for my plays.

And finally – I thought I’d add a little math to these rejection posts – especially since I’m paying for more of my submissions than I used to.

Calculation:

Fees
O’Neill – $35
Great Plains – $10
_______
Total outlay – $45

Patreon payment for this post: $127 (Thank you, Patrons!)
Gain – $82

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections and doing this math? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

The digital distribution is expiring at the end of March, so I’m also raising funds to keep them up. If you’d like to contribute, feel free to donate anywhere but I’m tracking them on Kofi – here: ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis

If you have a particular album you’d like to keep there, let me know!

*

Want to help ease the sting of rejection?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Rejection Roundup of 2018
January 31, 2019, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , , , , ,

In 2018, I applied to more things than I have ever applied before. My goal was 100 rejections and I did not come close at all – but in applying for 44 things, I still applied above and beyond any previous year.

In 2017, I applied to a few things that got me closer than I’d gotten to anything in the past and I got those rejections in 2018. So being a finalist and semi-finalist for stuff is nice but it’s ultimately still a rejection.

The most recent rejections:

My second literary agent rejection came through and like the first one, it stung. I’m not inoculated yet! And also because this genre of rejection is new, I do a lot more catastrophic thinking – having received TWO rejections for my novel, I am now batting away a bunch of “Well I guess I’m not a good novelist. I guess fiction isn’t my thing!”

And believe me, I know better than to do this – but it’s like fruit flies on a rotting banana…those thoughts just show up out of nowhere.

I applied for the Jerome Foundation Artist Fellowship back in the spring and lo, these many months later, the rejection came through.

My second Space at Ryder Farm application of 2018 was also rejected.

Also, my friend suggested I apply to this residency at Guild Hall because he’s worked a lot out there and thought we’d be a good match. Despite the connection, though, they rejected me.

I thought I might have stood a chance for the Writing Between the Vines residency because it is a series of residencies in vineyards and I have a novel about winemaking sisters that needs a lot of work. What could be better than a novel about wine being written at a vineyard? A lot of things apparently.

And to sum up 2018, here is a list of things I applied to but never heard back from, so I just assume they are rejections: NYFA Fiction Grant, Keruoac Residency, New Dramatists, The O’Neill and Great Plains Residency.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous one on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

The digital distribution is expiring at the end of February for the second album, so I’m also raising funds to keep them up. If you’d like to contribute, feel free to donate anywhere but I’m tracking them on Kofi – here: ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis

If you have a particular album you’d like to keep there, let me know!

*

Want to help counter all the rejection?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



First Rejection of Its Kind
December 31, 2018, 12:30 am
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , ,

I’ve been submitting my novel for young people to literary agents these last few months. As many of you know, I’m new to the fiction writing world so just finding out about this querying process has been new for me.

Every agent seems to ask for something slightly different – the first three chapters, the whole thing, the first twenty pages, etc.

Anyway, after submitting and submitting, I received my first rejection in this genre. It’s interesting because it comes directly from a person and not an organization, like most rejections I’m used to.
This person said she did not feel “that spark” so sends me forth to find someone else to represent the book. It was very elegantly put and probably honed from years of rejecting writers every day. But it stung a little bit – which I found interesting. For the most part, I’m pretty thick skinned when it comes to rejections these days. I’ve received enough grant rejections, enough festival rejections, enough residency rejections to just not really FEEL them anymore. I get the email, say “of course” and I move on.
But since this genre of rejection is new, I’m less familiar with its methods and likelihoods. See – when it comes to theatre stuff – I know when I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting something and when I have a small shot. Because I’ve never queried before, I think I’ve been harboring a kind of hope that I had a bigger shot than I probably do.

Just because my friends and family and their kids like my book (via listening to the podcast version) doesn’t mean that a literary agent is going to snap me up like a fresh baguette. And sure, it stings a little not to have lit a spark in some reader’s mind – but this is the first of many, I’m guessing and my skin will get as tough for these as it has for the others, I imagine, eventually.

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous one on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

The digital distribution is expiring at the end of January for the first album, so I’m also raising funds to keep them up. If you’d like to contribute, feel free to donate anywhere but I’m tracking them on Kofi – here: ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis

If you have a particular album you’d like to keep there, let me know!

*

Want to help counter all the rejection?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



Now Is the Winter of Our Rejections
December 12, 2018, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Rejections | Tags: , , ,

Tis the Season for Rejections, Tra la la la la, la la la la!

It is quite remarkable how they arrive in clusters.

In the morning, I got the Relentless Award rejection and in the afternoon, the Hedgebrook Residency rejection.
The next day: Ucross Residency

Previously, I received rejections from Willapa Bay Air, La Napoule (France) and Sacatar (Bahia, Brazil.) I mean, I have been rejected all over the world.

To add insult injury, the Austin film festival sent along their “comments” related to their rejection of my Medusa play that they sent a month or two ago. Wow. Well – I understand now why I get rejected all over the place. Because it was extraordinary how unsophisticated this reading of my play had been. I mean – listen – I know my work isn’t perfect – I like it but I can understand that some don’t. But it was extraordinary to see just how pedestrian an interpretation of a play can be. With that lens, of course no one’s accepting my work. I mean, dayum. (And those are my “comments” – now the unsolicited feedback is mutual. How ya like that, film festival?)

Then later – Art Omi Residency and the Queens Arts Council commission. When I got the commission rejection, I was surprised because I thought I’d not even bothered to apply, so sure was I I would not get it. But apparently I had bothered to apply because that rejection made it to me just fine!

*Wondering why I’m telling you about rejections? Read my initial post about this here and my patron’s idea about that here.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous one on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Want to help counter all the rejection?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 




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