Ok, let’s be honest, no one in the history of ever likes dealing with rejection. It’s not just about publication, it’s something so much more personal and painful. As artists, we pour ourselves into everything we do and getting a rejection letter feels like failure because it isn’t just a story or a poem or a painting, it’s us. We are being rejected. And that is hard. It’s hard to realize that the publishers aren’t actually rejecting us, just the work. And maybe not even forever. I’ve gotten multiple rejections which encouraged me to submit again, after polishing my work. In fact, when I got my first rejection letter it had a little note at the bottom that said,
We can tell that you are really excited about your stories but they feel rushed. Take some time to create some depth and please submit again.
I couldn’t see the good in that little note (though I’ve been told that any additional notes added to rejections are really great things). All I could do was close the computer and walk away with tears in my eyes because I had really thought that collection of short stories was the best I could do. I shelved the stories and left them for all of last year. When I pulled them out last month and read through them, I instantly knew what that editor meant. He was right. They were rushed. So now, I work on pacing. Adding in more details, slowing down, taking my time. It’s not a race to the finish. It’s about the feeling of the story.
In case you think this means I’ve come to terms with rejection, I haven’t. It still hurts each and every time I get an email or a postcard. But there are some super positive things that come out of rejection and those are the things I will choose to focus on.
1. I wrote something through to completion. It might not have been perfect, maybe it needs some tweaking, but I finished it.
2. I put myself out there. I took this living, breathing, meaningful brain baby and I sent it out into the world to see if it could stand on its own two feet. So it couldn’t, that isn’t the point. The point is that I risked, and that is a huge success.
3. I didn’t stop because I was rejected. I can’t let a rejection keep me from writing because I have to write. It’s what makes me happy so I’m going to keep trying until I get it right.
The next time you’re facing that rejection letter, remind yourself that you finished something, and sent it bravely into the world. Remind yourself that you are courageous and a damn good writer…and then write some more!