We Write Wednesdays: The R&R

We Write Wednesdays is a new feature I’ll be adding to this blog. Every Wednesday will feature a new writing related topic. As this feature grows, my hope is that it will become more interactive. For right now, I just want to share some of my experiences with you.

The R&R. It’s the one response that can fill you with equal parts of hope and dread. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, R&R means revise and resubmit. If that terminology is still a little bit over your head, chances are you haven’t tangoed much with the terrifying waters of querying agents. A revise and resubmit, means very much like it sounds. An agent likes what you have to offer, but they want you to go back make some serious changes and then submit it back to them.

Some of you may wonder why this could be so panic inducing. That’s why I’m here.

On one hand you’ve just been told that you might have something worthy on your hands. All that hard work you poured into creating the best story possible has at least in part paid off. You’ve got the attention of someone. Attention that is hard to come by. Agents get a lot of queries. So many that when I hear some of the numbers they deal with it’s tremendous. If they don’t think a project is worth their time they will pass. If they really love something they will ask for more and with any luck you may be steps away from having your own agent. When it is so easy to reject, the fact that an agent says, “Hey, I kind of like what they have going here and I want to see a better version.” That is a big deal. By no means is it a yes, but it is a vote of confidence. It supposes that the author has enough there that they might be able to do the work and make the story even better. It’s something to cheer for and get excited about. You’re a step closer, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

Then you have the other hand, the one filled with despair. No matter how you spin it, at the end of the day an R&R is still a form of rejection. The agent that just gave you a glimmer of hope is still saying no. That story you spent so much time on, may have a huge flaw. In the eyes of that one agent it isn’t up to snuff. At the very least, receiving this sort of rejection says that what you have doesn’t work as is. You can chock it up to being just that one agent’s opinion. However, it would be a detriment to your work to not at least consider that their opinion is valid. It could very well be the key to the other rejections you’ve surely received. The idea of diving back into your story to fix more problems because you’ve now discovered that it’s at least in some way flawed can be an emotional hit. It can hurt.

Now, I’m here to say that the R&R is one of the best responses short of signing a contract that you can get. An R&R isn’t like one of those personalized rejections that praises elements of your story, but ultimately passes for the dreaded “reasons.” The R&R like I mentioned previously is a chance for hope. It is also a chance for improvement. While there is definitely a chance your story may not need the changes that are suggested, unless you have a bunch of agents requesting it’s a great direction to start your revisions. More importantly, an R&R indicates the agent you queried has an interest in your project and wants you to give another shot. That means one less agent you have to cross off your list.

I just experienced my first R&R recently. As I received the email, I initially thought it was a rejection I was so used to. Then I paid a bit more attention to the language used. My initial assumption was very wrong. I had received another opportunity. Heck, I even received something to look into for my revision. I beamed and squealed with excitement to the point that my boyfriend thought that I might have finally lost my mind. When I composed myself enough to explain, his simple reaction was, “That’s good right? You’re getting closer.” Some part of me, the negativity that I constantly battle, wanted to say not really. If anything it was setting me back. It would take me at least a month to do the revisions and another to wait and make sure that revision improved the story. The suggestions that were made happened to be something I had been thinking about looking in to with my writing, but wasn’t sure it was an actual problem. After a meager night of thinking it over, I decided to go for it.

While I haven’t started my revision just yet, the prospect of this new endeavor has thrilled me. I’m going on a new journey with this story. I get to make it better. There’s nothing I want more than that because this is a story I want to share with the world.

Have you ever received an R&R? What was your experience? If you haven’t, how do you perceive an R&R?

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