Boundbytheword Blog

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Rejected! January 11, 2011

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 12:14 PM

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!

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10 Responses to “Rejected!”

  1. Dale Long Says:

    You mean waiting and pacing and pacing and waiting aren’t all part of the job? It says so right here in the writers handbook. I was just about to take up smoking and drinking heavily … wait-a-minute, when was this handbook published anyway? Damn ACME!

    So… we accept rejection gracefully? Hunh. Not sure if I can do that. You are a stronger person than me.

    • Waiting and pacing has been a big part of my job up until this point. I can’t take it – my nerves get shot.

      New day, new job…query, forget about it, query, forget about it, query, forget about it. My new mantra. Here’s hoping it works!

  2. Deepam Wadds Says:

    You are right – it isn’t YOU who are being rejected… it just feels that way at first. Kudos to you for dusting yourself off and jumping back in the ring.
    BTW – your humour makes me laugh out loud… love it! Thank you for keeping on keeping on.

  3. Lisa Says:

    Congratulations! You are now a real writer. Welcome to the club. Perhaps I should be saving all of the rejections I’ve been receiving from agents. Might make nice wallpaper.

    But what do you mean ice cream doesn’t equal love? Say it ain’t so…..

  4. When I was at Humber a author (forgotten her name, but she published about 25 YA books) said she went out and bought herself a really nice basket to put her rejections in. I thought that was a great idea – give them there own little resting place.

    As for the ice cream…you can love it, it just won’t love you back!!!

  5. Craig Says:

    Hi Noelle;

    Without the taste of rejection,success would not taste as sweet,but it sounds like you know that all ready.Take care.

  6. Cryssa Says:

    I don’t think there ever was a true writer created who didn’t have to first deal with the inevitable rejections. It’s a rite of passage, and this too shall pass. Keep writing, bravely and with pen held high! We are here.

    • Thanks Cryssa! It does make the bitter pill go down a little easier to know I am surrounded by a writing community that is so exceptional!

      Missed you at the breakfast, but look foward to seeing you at the next books and Bevvies!


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