You’ve written the perfect story — it’s an appealing idea and you know the writing is as solid as you can make it. But when you submit it, after weeks of waiting hopefully, you receive a rejection. What should you do? If the editor who rejected you was kind enough to give you reasons for the rejection, along with an offer of resubmission should you work out his/her rejection issues, do you accept that with his/her expertise this editor may know just a little more than you and go to work on the rewrite? After all, if the editor saw fit to tell you in depth just what was missing from the manuscript, and also added that he/she found the premise of the story to be of great interest, even though you are not guaranteed a place should you rework the story, surely you have a better chance of acceptance. If you’re like me, you’ve received your share of rejections and yes, they hurt. But you have to have confidence in your ability to convey an entertaining story. If you get as far as having an editor actively critique your work, you would be foolish to curl up and consider yourself to have no talent.
But part of me wanted to. I spent a lot of energy on that manuscript. I could almost quote it in my sleep. My crit partners probably feel they can quote it in their sleep. So for me, it’s not a matter of thinking the editor doesn’t know what she’s talking about…it’s a case of how long can one writer get stuck in a small town in Wyoming and not go stir crazy? Well, for this writer, indefinitely. Because I DO believe in this story and I think the editor made great points.
I would be foolish not to bow to her expert critique and rework some of the story to flow more evenly. Ten years ago, I allowed two rejections in a row to influence my decision regarding writing. These two rejections simply said I did not write with enough emotion, and besides they didn’t want stories having to do with “the arts.” At that time, all I could think was that I had put my entire self into those two stories and they had liked neither one. I figured that made me not the writer I thought I was.
For 10 years, I have had stories pushing at me from inside but I have been afraid to put pen to paper, or these days fingers to keyboard, because I allowed two rejections to dictate to my mindset about whether or not I can write.
In 2009, just about Christmas time, I felt the urge to write again. I hit the keyboard running, and I haven’t stopped since. My first published story is actually the third one that I completed since Christmas 2009, and it is only because I fell into a marvelous crit group, and let my skin harden to the “cluck-cluck” remarks when I succumb to my major literary weakness of confusing lay with lie that my writing improved to the point of being noticed. Listening to my crit group and making changes they suggested or brainstorming with them made a huge impact in the quality of my writing.
Now, you may discern that I recently received another rejection letter, based on my first couple of paragraphs. And you would be right. A very good friend of mine, knowing my history, said, Don’t lose heart and especially don’t lose your desire to write. You are WAY too good.”
Now, I am passing on that same advice to anyone who reads this, who has received one too many rejections to feel good. Don’t give up. As Dennis DeYoung of Styx said, “If you’ve got yourself a dream, work hard, believe in yourself, because I know dreams do come true.”
Look for my first release through Astraea Press in March: Heartsight.
Peace and happy writing!