WHAT DO YOU DO WITH REJECTION?
BY SYNDI POWELL
It takes guts to write something whether it's a letter or a novel. It takes time, patience, but most of all it takes ambition to create it.
It takes even more courage to send your writing out into the world. If you're sending it to a loved one, a critique partner or an editor, you have to believe in your work and yourself in order to submit it.
It takes even more nerve to get a rejection and keep writing.
A year ago, I submitted a proposal to my editor and waited to get her response. Unfortunately, she decided to pass on the project some months later. I then polished it, tailored it to a different romance line, and submitted it again to another editor. Recently, I discovered that they decided to pass on it too.
So what do I do? Wallow in self pity and eat an entire carton of ice cream? That works for the first day, maybe. However, I'm trying to build a writing career, and wallowing will only take me so far. Instead, I let the pity party go on for a day (or six). Then I took a shower and let the bad rejection feelings slip down the drain. And I continued writing the next project.
All writers get the dreaded rejection letter when they start out. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter was rejected twelve times. Stephen King's first novel Carrie was rejected by thirty publishers. Even a classic like Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind got thirty-eight rejection letters. Those writers got published because they didn't give up after one or five or thirty-eight editors didn't think that the manuscript was right for their publication house.
Even published writers get rejection letters. It's rare that an author will get the green light on every single idea they write down on cocktail napkins. Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and other literary greats had their fair share of novels turned down for publication.
Rejection still hurts. I spent hours of my free time on writing and editing and honing the proposal, synopses and first three chapters of the trilogy. I poured pieces of myself into the stories and created characters that I loved. My stories are like my babies. And to have anyone say my baby wasn't pretty enough for them, it hurts.
Rejection can block ideas from flowing. I stared at a blinking cursor for several days before I could let go of my feelings and dig down deep for the story that I did get an acceptance for. Nothing helps me get over rejection more than by writing words that I know will get published.
Rejection can make you question your career choice. I tend to internalize those rejections so that I question my ability to write. Even though both editors told me they liked the stories but that they weren't appropriate for their respective lines, it still made me question my worth as a writer. Made me ask myself why I put myself and my stories out there when I could be rejected again. Maybe I was meant to be a bank teller for the rest of my life. But after a couple days, characters started talking and plots percolating. If I wasn't a writer, these people talking in my head might become a psychological diagnosis.
Why am I sharing all this? Because rejection is part of the writer's life. Those who let a rejection turn them away from writing won't create much of a career. And I plan on being a part of this business for a long time.
So what am I doing with that proposal? It's currently saved in a file and waiting for its turn to be polished and sent off to another publisher. After all, those stories are perfect for another publisher. My job is to keep submitting until I find the one.
What do you do with rejection? What are your best practices to keep writing?