So it happened. A rejection letter.
I submitted my work for an anthology and got the big N-O. I’ll admit, I was shocked initially, because the piece I produced was really quite funny. In fact, I laughed out loud every time I polished it with edits, thinking what a clever writer I was. Thinking that surely they would fall in love with the piece as much as I had.
They didn’t love it, maybe they didn’t even like it. Maybe they didn’t even chuckle (gasp). I don’t know, and won’t know, but I do know I was rejected.
Meh. It actually doesn’t feel that bad. I thought I would be crushed, devastated, eat a carton of ice cream, or at least yell at my husband with misdirected anger and frustration. But, I didn’t do any of those things because really, meh…not so bad.
In fact, the rejection has served me quite well. All my mentors and wise writer friends who told me to query, query, query because it’s just a part of this business, who said I would shoulder it in stride were right. It wasn’t that bad at all.
For any writers or anyone out there afraid of rejection, I thought I’d give you a front row ticket into my brain for “Rejection Day”. This is how it looked after opening the rejection:
“What? I can’t believe it!”
I read the letter again, just in case.
“I wonder why they didn’t like it?”
I read the rejection again, looking specifically looking for feedback to answer the why (or why not). They said “selections were made based on the structure of the anthology, the tone of the anthology and the content of the entry”. I ignored their well worded explanation and instead spiralled into defending the piece to my ever-present inner critic.
“I thought it was hilarious and quite brilliant. Hmph. Was I fooling myself? I have to go read it again.”
I go read it again, laugh out loud, and decide that yes, it is in fact hilarious and brilliant.
“Meh. I need to start querying more. “
So, in the end I learned some valuable lessons about sending a query:
1. Forget you did it. Let it go, don’t wait on it, depend on it, or obsess over it.
2. Don’t take a rejection too personally. It doesn’t matter if it didn’t fit the structure, it wasn’t the right time or the right tone. Maybe they didn’t find it funny, engaging or brilliant in the least. So what? Someone will like it, even if it’s only your parents.
3. Rejection from a publisher, agent, or panel of judges isn’t nearly as bad as rejection from a lover. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you. No just means no. Let it go.
4. Query more. You have a lot more invested if you send a singular query. Or two or even three. You need to query enough that you lose track a little of who and what you’re waiting on.
5. Appreciate when the rejection includes some explanation. Once I got over the small sting to the ego that the rejection left, I looked at it again, and thought – that was pretty nice of them to layout what the structure looked like (which they did, and which made me feel like it made sense, mine didn’t fit.) Those guys doing the rejecting…they could just say no, so if they say more than that, let it sink in and appreciate the extra effort on their part.
6. Being rejected means you are actively writing and submitting your work. You can’t fail if you don’t try, but you can’t succeed that way either.
7. Ice cream does not equal love, approval or self-worth. It won’t help your writer’s delicate ego. It won’t help your thighs either.
So I close with a goal, instead of a quip. By January 20th I’ll have put out a baker’s dozen queries. Lucky 13. I’ll be counting on you, my faithful blog readers to keep me honest. I’ll be sure to keep you posted!