My work in progress, or wip, is my fourth attempt at a novel. I have been writing for a little over ten years while trying to craft that one manuscript that will have agents thrusting contracts at me. I have learned a lot along the way. I attribute most of the flops to genre confusion. Nothing sparked me. Everything seemed formulaic and contrived. I was striving to be published more than I was striving to create an excellent work of fiction. My fire was not lit and it showed.
Rejection letter after rejection letter came my way and it got so bad I almost quit. I was ready to throw in the towel and say "to hell with it". Life is too short to write mediocre manuscriots and rejection requests. I quit writing. I think I lasted a month, which is a long time for me. I tried to convince myself I was better off and that I was not meant to write. It worked for a while until one straggler rejection came to my mail box. I think I even forgot I had submitted something.
This rejection letter was the best rejection letter I have ever recieved. It praised my writing, complimented my style. The personalized rejection pointed to good parts of my story and gave me real feedback to make it better. Their biggest complaint was that I was a prude... she didn't actually say I'm a prude but she told me there was not enough sex for their publishing house. I remember reading that and thinking, "huh? Not sexy enough, really?" Since then I have embraced my prudish self (well not really) and have contemplated framing that rejection. The kind words and gentle praise was enough to get me started again.
After that I wrote half of another manuscript before abandoning it and starting my current project. When I find myself in a lull I pull out that rejection and smile. I may be a prude but somebody thinks I am a good writer.