“We regret to inform you that your story is not up to the caliber of our anthology.”
“While we loved your submission, it was not a correct fit for our magazine.”
“Please consider making [these substantial revisions to the story, which would COMPLETELY change the entire point of the story] and resubmit for consideration.”
“This is not what we wanted. Please consider reading the submission directions and requirements the next time you submit somewhere. That, and learn to write.”
“Exactly what were you thinking when you submitted this?”
“We are NOT that kind of publication!”
…crickets chirp, a tumbleweed passes by…
Do any of these sound familiar? They are just a few of the many quotes from rejection letters that I have received over the years. And these are the nice ones.
I’m betting that you’ve read something similar a few hundred times in the letters that you’ve received from editors. And while experienced writers will tell you that it’s all part of the game, which is true, many fail to own up to a very simple fact: the rejection of your work, your creation still sucks big time.
So now the question is, how do you deal? I’m not talking about the philosophy of dealing with rejection — such as realizing that it’s not about you, that it’s part of the process, etc, etc. I’m focusing in this blog post on the practical things that you can do to deal with rejection, at least in the world of writing.
I know, I know. We’re taught from a very early age that things like anger, frustration, rage are bad things. And to a point, I agree. If you allow them to get out of hand. But in my book, there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting a bit angry or emotional in regards to the rejection of your work. It is perfectly normal and reasonable. So go ahead and scream at the rejection letter, tear it up, burn it, whatever you need to do to get your bottled up emotions out. Just don’t go stalking the editor. That’s just considered bad form in so many ways.
Once you’re done letting your inner demon out, take a breath. How do you feel? A little tired? A little silly, perhaps? And maybe a bit calmer? Good. Now take that feeling and do some brainstorming for your next story.
Write Your Own Rejection Letter
I know this technique may sound funny, but trust me, it works. Pick a story out of your library and write your own rejection letter. Nitpick the heck out of some short story that you’ve read in the past. Do everything you can to find any reason to reject it. Do your best impression of the evil editor that tossed aside your precious creation.
What will this accomplish? It gives you a different perspective on the process. Editors, as a general rule aren’t evil, just, well, very, very, very busy. They don’t have the time to coddle writers and develop new talent — unless of course that talent is worth it. The editing room (my apologies to the medical profession) is a lot like triage in one respect — there is an urgent need to focus on those who can be “saved”. There isn’t much time for writers who produce just mediocre work or worse yet, bad writing. After all, deadlines are looming.
So now take a look at your rejected masterpiece. Does it still hold up under your newly honed critical eye? If so, find another place to submit. If not, revise, rewrite and re-imagine.
Start Your Next Masterpiece
A lot of writers do their craft from a place of emotion. This is especially true if you are a pantser. So why not use that emotion that you’re feeling right now to create a new story? Instead of shoving your emotions down into the pit of your stomach, embrace them and use them to fuel the next rough draft. Just remember this writing advice given to me by a great friend. “Write when you are emotionally drunk. Edit when you are stone cold sober.”
Don’t Forget You’re in Great Company
As you’ll see in this story from Mental Floss — just about every writer you could possibly admire has felt the sting of rejection.
So buck up, fellow writer. Rejection isn’t the end. It’s only the beginning. KEEP WRITING!
© 2019, Laura Seeber. All rights reserved.