I’d lived for four months in hope. But no is as much a part of the publishing process as yes.
She gave me incredible gifts in the three hours of our meeting.
The meeting itself—rejecting publishers never meet the writers of their rejected manuscripts—was a gift. I don’t drive. She picked me up. That was a gift. She took us to a charming bistro a few miles away and bought the first of two glasses of wine (I bought the second). That was a gift.
But most importantly, she’d read and considered my manuscript. So had a poet on her editorial board. She gave me reasons in detail for the manuscript’s rejection (and I kept saying, I get it). She gave me a page and a half of written comments from her colleague. The writers of rejected manuscripts are never privy to the thought processes of their rejecting publishers. That was a gift.
She gave me things to think about. Some of your poems, she said, are almost metaphysical.
I get it.
Too cerebral. Taking place in Head Land.
But John Donne did it better. Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with the poems, but they don’t have a place in this manuscript.
I get it.
That was a gift.
She read one of my poems aloud to me. Beautifully. Movingly. Tears came to my eyes. That was a gift.
She gave me high praise. That was a gift. But, she said simply, this isn’t my book.
She gave me hope. Left the door a crack open. That was a gift. There’s possibly a book in this manuscript. Take it home, she said. Pull it apart. Spread it out on the dining room table. Take out a few poems. Add a few. Rearrange them. I did. Work in progress.
Best $10 I’ve ever spent.
Thank you, Ann.