If you’re a writer, you’d better learn to make peace with rejection. You know what it’s like when you’re dating and trying to find someone you can actually get along with? That’s what it’s like for your poor writing, venturing out in the world looking for a match.
So…what do you do when it’s YOUR writing being rejected? I suggest the following steps:
- Commiserate with other writers and loved ones. Feel sad. Feel frustrated.
- Dust yourself off. Research a new market.
- Send the piece out again.
- Rinse and repeat.
And while you’re waiting? Write something new.
After a handful of rejections on the same piece, though, I think it’s time to pull your work back and give it a read. Ask yourself: Is this as good as it can be? Is this getting rejected NOT because I haven’t found the right home, but because there’s something wrong with the piece?
To get back to that dating metaphor, sometimes when you go on a date, the other person’s a perfectly fine human being, but you just don’t feel it. If that’s what’s going on with your story, okay. Keep at it. But sometimes when you go on a date, you see significant deal-breaking red flags in the other person. Is your story a date full of red flags? Ack! Revise!
If you’ve received any personal rejections–as opposed to form rejections–THAT STUFF IS GOLD. Gold. Pay attention to what they say! Revise! There is NOTHING more helpful than a personal rejection that gives you something to work on! I recently received a personal rejection that pointed out a problem with the opening of a story–something I’d never noticed (ACK) and none of my readers ever noticed (DOUBLE ACK). I am incredibly thankful for that editor’s comments and used them to revise the story.
I thought I’d collect some of the best writerly quotes about rejection, so I can read them and feel better when needed. Perhaps you’ll enjoy them, too.
“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.” – Barbara Kingsolver
“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” – Neil Gaiman
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C. S. Lewis
“To ward off
a feeling of failure,
she joked that
she could wallpaper
her bathroom with
which she chose not
to see as messages
but rather as tickets
to the game.”
– Anita Shreve from “The Last Time They Met”
Don’t lose faith in yourself! Persistence is everything.
Remember, rainbow cat believes in you!