My apologies for being a day late to post: my nephew received orders to report to Kuwait, and the family had an early Thanksgiving—his favorite holiday—before he ships out.
Rejection. As humans, we are rejected every day (friends, family, co-workers, that driver who lifts a finger to show his displeasure), but writers, especially, have an intimate relationship with rejection; writers are steeped in wrestling rejection and confidence, even the best wordsmiths. Rejected Writers is a list of now famous writers whose first novel was rejected several times before finding a buyer. You will recognize most, if not all the names: J.K Rowling, Stephen King, John Grisham, Isaac Asimov, and the list goes on—as a matter of fact, the reality is that every writer gets rejected.
In a previous post, Failure, the Path to Success, I wrote that in order to succeed as a writer, your writing must first be sent to agents, editors, or publishers, and inevitably be rejected. Sending out your creation is a form of success, and I grip that thought as a lifeline to make sense of this thing I do.
As to success and failure, there are different degrees; a writer’s group loves your gritty tale about a young boy overcoming a schoolyard bully, only to have your in-box filled with, “Sorry, but it does not fit our needs at this time.”
What’s wrong with the story? Perhaps nothing. Maybe the timing is off, or the editor just bought a similar story, or (heaven forbid) you sent the story to the wrong publication.
A personal example detailing the emotional roller-coaster every writer rides: Friday I received the first critiques of Lesson 1 from the Iowa University “How Writers Write Fiction,” of which all four were glowing reports saying they loved the 500-word beginning of my short story, Nychelle’s Gate, and that they wanted to see more. There is elation and great satisfaction when one’s words touches a reader.
Two hours later, an agent responded to the query for my fantasy novel, The Returning: “Though I think you have an interesting story here, I didn’t quite fall in love with it in the way that I need to in order to request more. In this subjective industry, I’m sure another agent will feel differently, and I wish you the best of luck on your writing journey.”
Heart sinking, I grasped for any vine dangling over piranha-infested waters:
- Personalized; not a form rejection letter (email).
- The story concept is interesting.
- The agent is sure another will love the idea.
Silver linings, pros and cons, hopes and dreams; all appear, along with those other sensations, you know, the ones that send you to the bathroom to run your wrists under cold water to stop the sweating, the deep breaths to slow the racing heartbeat, the dry mouth that water will not satisfy.
Deep sigh. This is why I have a framed copy of the check and acceptance letter for my short story, The Accomplice, next to my desk reminding me that somebody did think enough of my writing to buy it. Although the money is long spent on who-knows-what, the By-Line is forever.
As my file “Collections of Rejections” continues to bulge, I push aside the angst, glance at the framed letter, and start typing.
See you on the next page,
This Week’s Writing Quote:
“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” James Michener