According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, a rejection slip is: a printed slip enclosed with a rejected manuscript returned by an editor to an author. Most times I agree with Merriam-Webster. It’s my preferred dictionary; but in this case, they are not up to date. They obviously don’t know that rejections are done ten times more efficiently today by email.
Since rejection is something we all deal with at times, I enlisted four writers and asked them each to write a little about how to handle rejection and keep writing. Amazingly, all four accepted my “rejection invitation.”
Last week, we heard from Erica Hayes and Deanne Shultz. Today, we’ll hear from the remaining two writers.
First up is KL Wagoner. As you’ll see in a moment, she had the perfect mindset to write on this subject.
KL Wagoner wrote short stories as a child but never pursued her love of writing until mid-life. She served in the military, raised four children, and studied computer programming and accounting. Then a story about a family marooned on a desert planet began to form in her mind bringing her back to her first love – writing.
When she’s not reading or writing she says, “I have Lego adventures with my 9-year-old granddaughter, go for hikes in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, and enjoy time with my newly retired husband.”
I asked her,
“Even today, what is your first gut reaction when you receive a rejection?
What happens next, and how do you move forward?”
Writing: Rejection, Reality, and Resolution
“The day I started the first draft of this contribution about rejection, I checked my inbox and there it was – a rejection of a short story I’d submitted to a well-known fantasy magazine. In the logical part of my being, I know not to take this kind of rejection personally. It’s hard not to, isn’t it? In the past, I’d drag my illogical self around in a funk for weeks, decide I’d never write again, and then wonder,
“What do I do now to satisfy my creative soul?”
Nothing, of course.
After an eternity in which I overdosed on Cheetos, peanuts, and ice cream, I would come to the conclusion that this is my passion, and begin writing again. Even now my gut reaction is still the same. The difference is I recognize the destructiveness of that dark path and I only give in to a few hours of self-pity before reminding myself why I write – not for some fleeting promise of praise, but for the love of story.
And so I write. I read. And I write the stories I like to read. I edit, revise, get feedback from writers, revise, polish, and only submit my best work. Then resubmit, and resubmit.
Oh, and before I finished this contribution, I received another rejection – but this one offered feedback.
I can work with that.”
I love that last thought and the optimistic attitude. It is true that editors are extremely busy folks. When you get any kind of feedback, do not look at it as a rejection; look at it as a free critique. And if it says try another idea or consider us in the future, it’s an encouragement. Go for it.
I would also like you to meet Jillian Lisa Pearl.
She’s been writing since 2007. However, she’s been telling stories since she was able to talk. She is working on her debut romance novel, The Fire-Pit, which will be available later this year.
She also says, “My most important job is taking care of my family and pets. We’ve been blessed to call the Rocky Mountains of Colorado home for 15 years.”
I asked Jillian,
“Rejection of a story or a book proposal is largely a business decision, but it often feels personal. How do you depersonalize the process since it’s something writers deal with regularly?
Writing: Now, It’s Personal
“Writing is personal; forged through effort and passion it contains a piece of your heart. Which is why it’s frightening to submit your creation.
We’ve all received a form email that succinctly says, “Your submission(s) does not fit our current needs.” Or worse, someone actually tells us, “Give up, you’ll never be a good writer.”
Being rejected hurts. It’s a rare person who can depersonalize rejection. The rest of us need a plan to cope with it.
Sometimes being brave is hard. Don’t let fear stop you. If you have to, get up each day and give yourself a pep talk. One of my favorites is from the 1998 movie, “You’ve Got Mail.”
“You’re at war. It’s not personal, it’s business…’ Recite that to yourself every time you feel you’re losing your nerve. I know you worry about being brave. Don’t. This is your chance. Fight…” — Tom Hank’s character Joe Fox
Believe In Yourself
Believe that you are smart enough, clever enough, and brave enough. Don’t allow publishers, family, or anyone to take your dream away. Allow your unique voice to shine. Because when you do, nothing can stop you. Nothing.”
I respect how all four distinctly different writers each found their own ways to deal with the inevitable rejection and keep moving forward. I know this was encouraging and educational. And I hope it was even fun too.
Along the road to sweet success, we may deal with some bitterness, but it’s worth it.
Learn more about KL Wagoner:
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. She blogs about writing memoirs at www.ThisNewMountain.com/blog and has a new blog devoted to speculative fiction at http://klwagoner.wordpress.com/.
Learn more about Jillian Lisa Pearl, her courage, her short stories and her book, “The Fire Pit.”
Have a question or comment for Jillian Lisa Pearl or KL Wagoner? Please leave it below.
Did you miss hearing from Erica Hayes and Deanne Schultz? Here’s the link to Part 1.
If you want to catch every post you can enter your email at the top of the page. Keep moving forward and keep writing!