By Nichole Giles
If you ever meet a writer who claims to have never been rejected, that person is lying. Everyone who writes gets rejected at some point. It is the nature of the beast, a symbol of the industry, and a sign (or symptom) of an honest-to-goodness serious writer. That person who was never rejected probably never submitted.
I’m not just talking about those form letters that come to us in the mail saying, “We regret to inform you that your work does not meet our needs at this time.” I mean ALL rejections. Some people apparently don’t realize that there are many ways in which to be rejected. Any kind of writing, submitted to any kind of publication, contest, editor, agent…any writing you’ve ever sent anywhere that has not been used for one reason or another constitutes a rejection.
Your rejections count for something, regardless of whatever comments came with them.
Now you’re thinking, “Oh great. Now you’ve made me feel like a total and complete loser.” Ah-ha, but that’s where you’re wrong. The point is not to make you feel like a loser, but to make sure you understand that you are a WRITER. Which, by the way, you couldn’t officially be without at least one rejection.
But it hurts. I admit rejection really does stink. Especially the ones from editors or contest judges who took the time to personally dig into your work and insult you for writing it. Unfortunately, this is also part of our industry. We learn to live with these things and we toughen our resolve because of them. We tell ourselves, “I’ll show them!” And then we work our hardest to do just that.
My writer’s group has a yearlong rejection contest going, and we’re considering another contest for worst rejection comments. By turning it into a competition, we’ve found a way to put a positive spin on rejection.
For all of us out there who have recently had rejections come in, I wanted to share the following reminders.
1. Writers who know keep going.
2. Writers who know write whenever they can.
3. Writers who know ignore their messy homes and ringing phones to get that brilliant idea on paper (or computer).
4. Writers who know listen to the good comments and throw away the bad.
5. Writers who know have confidence in their abilities.
6. Writers who know see rejection as one more step toward acceptance.
7. Writers who know invest in themselves.
8. Writers who know take the time to refine their craft.
9. Writers who know utilize everything around them in the effort to tell a great story.
10. Writers who know write despite—and sometimes because of—rejection.
We are not perfect. Our houses are not always spotless, and sometimes our families eat takeout for dinner because we were too busy writing to cook. We give up sleep, showers, and many other regular daytime activities in order to do something that may not ever make us any money. We do it anyway because we are writers who know.
We all have things to learn. The truth is, there is no one right or wrong way to tell a story. As it is with life, success doesn’t always look the way we pictured it in our heads. Nor does it necessarily look the way our friends, parents, or spouses think it should look. But it is there. Big, and bold and completely within our grasp if we can only reach out and do our best to gravitate toward it.
Remember this, my friends. Writers who know never give up.