“Thank you for your submission. We regret to inform you that it does not suit our current needs.”
These words, or similar, are common in the life of a writer. Okay, I’m sure that there are writers out there who no longer get such notes. I’m willing to guess, for instance, that it’s been a very long time since Stephen King has had anything rejected by a publisher. But for those of us who are not household names with a string of best sellers to our credit, rejection is still a daily threat — A pendulum with a razor-sharp blade, swinging above our heads, waiting to suddenly drop.
But the thing to remember here is that writers like Stephen King and JK Rowling did, once upon a time, before they struck it BIG, get a rejection letter or two. JK even discussed her rejections with Oprah.
“I wrote my first story when I was sixteen and it was turned down by the Women’s Weekly. I felt so rejected I didn’t write anything else until I was forty.”
Different writers will undoubtedly have different experiences with rejection. Some writers deal with it well… like water off a duck’s back. They pick themselves up and try again. Others not so well. You hear the stories of some writers who take rejection personally and who question their ability every time a piece of work is not wanted. But they deal with it, they move on, however torturously, and continue writing. And then there are those people who get one rejection and never write again… writers who could have been, but never were, perhaps never meant to be.
I think there are two important things to remember about rejection. Firstly, that it is not personal. It is the piece of writing that is being rejected, not the writer. Secondly, it is just the opinion of one publisher/editor. A piece can be rejected for any number of reasons other than the quality of the writing. It may not be what an editor is looking for at that time. It may be too similar to something else that has already been accepted. It may be a simple case of the wrong story to the wrong publisher at the wrong time.
But it can be a hard slog. I understand that. I had many years of rejections before I finally made my very first sale — an article about Melbourne’s Regent Theatre for a CBD magazine called Melbourne Agenda in 1994. And it was another few years of rejections before I had my first book — Life, Death and Detention in 1999. I get a lot fewer rejections these days (‘cause me righting has gotten gooderer) but I still do get them. Every time I send something off, I do so with a little bit of anxiety. Every time I send a piece of writing out into the world, away from the safety of my computer, I feel the threat of possible rejection.
Not that the threat of rejection is necessarily a bad thing. It certainly keeps me on my toes. It forces me to not be complacent about my writing. Most of all, it makes me even more determined to try harder and make the next sale. As far as I’m concerned, dealing with rejection is just part of being a writer.
Tune in next time for a post I haven’t even thought about yet. 🙂
Catch ya later, George
PS. Follow me on Twitter… or I’ll make a list of every rejection I’ve ever had.