Rejections, Boxes, and Caterpillar Soup

     I received another agent rejection today. It was actually a very pleasant letter telling me he didn’t feel he was the right fit for my story. I can respect that. At least I feel like he seriously considered my work before declining, and I would be happy to query him again if I write something else that may be more in-line with his agenting preferences.

     I keep telling myself to expect rejections. This is a hard fact of being a writer – we will get LOTS of rejection letters. I understand this. I accept this. But it’s also leading to a massive amount of self-doubt. Maybe I should change the ending. Maybe I should rewrite the whole thing as young adult instead of adult fiction. Should I add sex? More death? Maybe my story is boring. Maybe I’m boring. Maybe I should change the whole thing to make it more mainstream.

     I’ve been researching the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly for another story. We learn as children that the caterpillar spins a cocoon around itself and changes into a butterfly. As we get a bit older, we learn that the transformation inside the cocoon isn’t a pretty one: the caterpillar basically digests itself into goop and then rebuilds as the butterfly. More recently, I learned that way back when the caterpillar was developing in its egg, it develops imaginal discs. Each disc is essentially a small cluster of cells that form the core for a part of an adult butterfly. In the cocoon, as the enzymes digest the rest of the caterpillar body, the imaginal discs get to work building wings, eyes, legs, etc. from the caterpillar soup.

      After reading the agent rejection, I decided to go for a walk. I figured the physical activity may boost my spirits, and beside, there’s something poignant and romantical about walking in the grey drizzle after getting disappointing news.


    I’m sure I was the perfect tragic heroine in my olive green capris and Hairy Otter T-shirt.

     As I was walking along, contemplating my worth as a writer and human being (yeah – I can be a walking definition of ‘melodramatic’ at times), I was listening to Imagine Dragons “It’s Time.” As the song reached the line “I’m never changing who I am,” I glanced up just in time to see a butterfly flutter over and land on the tree I was passing. I thought of all the changes she’s been through to get her wings, and yet these wings were inside her all along. She always was the butterfly – it just took a long, yicky process to show everyone else.

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     We either change or we stagnate. I’m constantly trying to refine my skills and improve my work. I will not change myself to fit into someone else’s box. But if I want to soar, I need to be willing to break down everything that isn’t the core of who I am so I can rebuild to my true form.

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