Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rejection Letters-- Necessary Evil

Losing a job was probably the best thing that could have happened to my writing. After the initial drama and agony of the hours after The Call-- I was telecommuting at the time-- I woke up the next morning to realize that hey-- I'm still alive. And ok. The worst rejection I could ever imagine, being told after 10 years with the company that there wasn't a place for me anymore, DIDN'T KILL ME.

Nope, I was just fine. Limbs intact. Ego was a bit bruised, but that would fade in time.  Besides, after a while, I realized-- no matter how much of your heart and soul and time is given to a company-- at the end of the day, it IS a Company. And if you are a part of that world, you are part of a world that makes Business Decisions. And the Business Decision that was made was that I was no longer a good Fit for their Current Budget.

Months later, when I poured my heart and soul and time into a short story only to receive a standard issue rejection letter, I reframed my realization: I was part of this world now, the world that makes Editorial Decisions. And my story was not a Good Fit for their publication. Disappointed, yes, but I knew the only choice was to search for the place where my writing would make sense. I sent the short story out again. And again. And again.

In spite of the rejections that continue to come my way, I keep writing and learning. I know that in order to get more work accepted, I need to submit it. The threat of rejection is no longer one of my top ten excuses not to write or submit. Is it yours?

Today's Excuse: I Can't Handle Rejection

In elementary school, did you ever get a note back from that special someone in response to the heartfelt question: "Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No"? Did the answer shape the rest of your day, your week?

As writers, we are hoping for the Yes box to be checked every time. All creative work is a tiny piece of our hearts, and we are offering it to the world, hoping our hearts will return unscathed. Instead, rejections causes some writers to turn their writing into Old Maids, with pages hidden away in drawers and notebooks, unwilling to risk heartache.

Excuse Editor Tip:
The high points of your creative process are like Spring Break, but eventually your endeavor needs to slap on a suit and get to work.

"Writing is a passion, publishing is a business." ~ Shelley Lieber
Once you send your work out into the world, it is no longer about YOU. It's about the market. It's about finding the right "fit".  Remember when you get a rejection that it is not personal, it's business. The current publishing market reflects our economy; book publishers are not willing to take on anything potentially risky and newspapers and magazines are folding.  It's crucial to have writing that not only sticks out, but fits in. Hmm, that sounds like a strange contortionist pose to me.

The important thing to do is stand up straight and keep writing and submitting. Celebrate every rejection as if it were last place in an Olympic event: So you didn't win--but you made it all the way to the Olympics! There are so many writers out there who never even try out; by submitting your work you are placing yourself in the competition. Good for you!

Keep your writing in shape for the day when the absolute perfect writing fit finds you; it may be the steady column you were hoping for or an acceptance of your novel-- as long as we can get these six chapters edited a bit-- So you need to Be Ready to put your creative mind to work!

How do you feel about rejection? Has it kept you from sharing your work?


  1. Great post, Tina!

    I guess once the "worst" has happened, the emphasis shifts from "What if?" to "Where do I go from here?" I think it's important to acknowledge rejection and work with the feelings that come with it in a positive way. I'm not sure I trust a person who takes a hit, grins and then says "Well, shucks, that was annoying. Let's move on!" Acknowledging the hit taken is important, as is accepting the anger and the pain, but then comes the turn around--the part where we take a deep breath and ask "What am I going to do about it?" or "What good can I find in this hellish situation?"
    I don't pretend to be superwoman capable of putting on a "good face" for every difficult situation. I admit to the frustration and the pain and yes, even the fear of where things could be going and then I strive for the positive. Rejection has hurt and sometimes caused me to veer off the path, but it has never entirely stone-walled me. I've learned to plant many different seeds of hope so that if one tree fails to bear fruit, I have other trees to tend.
    I think the balm to the wound of rejection is hope.


  2. I once had a woman remark to me, "Rejection is a gift from God." She was referring to a man who broke up with her, thus freeing her to meet her true love, but the concept applies to every part of life, doesn't it?

    Great post, Tina, and thanks for the mention.

  3. Thanks for the positive reminder! Rejection isn't always about our writing, but when the rejections come in, it feels that way. Love your elementary school analogy....

    Martina (Champion in the Olympic Sport of Rejection Receiving)

  4. I don't think anyone admits they Can't Handle Rejection out loud, but it is the reason for not submitting as much or as frequently as possible. C Hope Clark (another nl I subscribe to) advises keeping 5 or more submissions out there at one time and having a ready list of places to resubmit any rejected manuscripts. It eases the disappointment of 1 rejection when there are 5 or more hopefuls out there.
    Thanks, Perle


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