Is it nuts that I'm super excited about it?
Here's the story. I finished my manuscript in the spring. Soon after, I handed it off to a few beta readers, and they gave me some great feedback. Since then, I've been tweaking and revising and chopping and "killing my darlings," etc., etc. I've written, at this point, three different Chapter Ones. I've made it to the not-quite-halfway point with my edits, and when I get all the way through, I'll probably start again at the beginning and tweak, revise, chop and kill some more.
In other words, I'm not really to the point of sending queries out yet.
But I did send one, just one. A few months back, I saw this contest/opportunity to get my query and first chapter read by an agent. A real agent - a really, really good agent. So I jumped on it. I polished the query letter I'd started shakily writing, prepped my Chapter-One-du-Jour best as I could, held my breath and clicked send.
Then I let the breath out, because I didn't honestly expect to hear anything back. The agency I sent to is one of the ones that doesn't guarantee a response because it receives so many queries. But I did hear back! I did! I'm still reeling from it. It was a rejection, of course, but it was more than a form rejection! The agent gave me real feedback! Honest to goodness constructive criticism! She mentioned my main character by name - she really did read my work! And her criticism was spot-on. I now have some solid ideas about things to work on to make my manuscript stronger. I can't tell you how excited I am about that.
Plus she said I'm "a lovely writer." I can guarantee you, even if she just threw that in to spare my feelings, that's the part of the letter I'll be thinking about as I drift off to sleep tonight, not the negative, rejection-y stuff.
I'm really glad I took that leap and entered that contest. Even though I might have jumped the gun - even though, honestly, there's a tiny chance I missed an opportunity to be represented by this agent by sending her my work before I had it fully ready, I'm glad I did it. I feel encouraged by the experience, not discouraged. I feel, somehow, like I'm a "real" writer now. And most important, I feel ready and eager and anxious to delve back into the manuscript and get it ready to send out. (And if anybody's been reading my recent posts, you know I really needed that kick in the pants.)
I'm soooo psyched to get in there and make my story better. So, basically, I'm about as happy as a girl can be to have been rejected.