The Road to 80 Rejections, vol. 4

My late father was an avid fisherman.

Some of my earliest, and happiest, childhood memories were of fishing trips out to the lake. We’d set up shop at the spillway or down on the rocky shore. He’d spend the day catching some of the biggest catfish I’d ever see. Personally, I’d be lucky to land a gar, despite the fact those things were everywhere. You didn’t even have to put any effort into catching gar. They’d slither directly from the gates of Hades to your fishing line, even though your worm had fallen off ten minutes ago and your bobber was only half-on. Yeah, I was lucky to even get one of those. My dad, however, flung fancy tackle around in all sorts of ornate patterns and could catch sharks from a creek bed.
There were times when I’d get really lucky and could catch a small perch or two. I’d tie a line to my finger and find a little rocky hole in the water. I’m sure that my success rate was something like 1,594 fishing trips for each silver dollar-sized perch. Suffice it to say, I’m no angler.
I can remember one fishing trip better than any of the others. My family in Amarillo (where I live now, but didn’t when I was a kid) brought us along for a vacation that spanned from a bear-infested camp in Colorado down to a mecca of all that is good and glorious in New Mexico. Our options were either to fish or to go hiking. My dad chose the former and I was happy to join him. The thing is, he wanted to do some serious fishing. And he knew I didn’t. Ground rules were set that I’d have to actually cast lines and try to catch something. Most importantly, I’d need to not scare all of the fish away.
About two hours into our mission, I got the first bite on my line. I jerked my pole up in the air the way I saw him do it and reeled my line in. No fish. “Here’s your problem,” Dad told me, “throw a line out all day and if you don’t know how to hook it, it won’t do you any good.”
I’ve dropped a few figurative lines in the literary lake now. Seven attempts, to be exact. This last week started out with my very first rejection. My line was sent back sans worm, but with a kind note stating that it was them, not me. And then, just two days later, I got my very first nibble. A managing partner liked what she saw and requested my full manuscript and a brief summary of my novel. My first reaction was one of triumph and my second, worry pooling in the bottom of my stomach. I’ve never been any good at setting that hook. I thought back to my dad, and that time at the lake, and him telling me that arms flailing and excited screaming never caught anything at all. I need patience, faith, and one heck of a hook.
We’ll see if I can reel in the big one.
Submissions: 7 / Rejections: 2
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