I sent out queries to all of my top-list agents, and the rejections started pouring in. Most were form letters, which were always disappointing, but a few were personal and encouraging--they saw the potential, but knew I was not quite there.
I wrote my second novel, then queried it to all of my previous rejections and then some. Same response--no one was interested in my brilliant new book. I was clueless. Luckily, I was developing a thick skin in the process.
Now that I've written ten novels, it has been interesting to revisit those first two. I recently redrafted them both, and I was surprised to see just how far my writing has come. I have to admit ... I'm mortified that I had queried for both in their previous states, and that I had actually thought they were ready for agents' eyes, let alone all the world's. They were good stories in dire need of more redrafts--in dire, dire need. I'm very thankful that they did not get published as they were, as it would have done them a great disservice.
It took writing about a million words (and reading even more) for me to be able to see my old work through new eyes. Writing, like any craft, takes time, patience, and lots of practice--and one can never stop refining one's art. I am eager to see what the next million words will bring.