So, rejection sucks. Not to overstate, but my inbox feels like a minefield of misery sometimes. Dramatic? Yes. Accurate? Yes. To be so close and yet so far along the publishing process is a real mental challenge some days. And I’m not gonna lie, it can be wearing.
It’s not just a “poor me” feeling, though, sure, there is a “poor me” feeling. It’s also the pure, unadulterated sting of another person telling you your heart’s work isn’t for them. It’s that the gatekeeper, who holds your dream and a piece of you in their hand, is keeping their gate firmly shut. It’s the walking-alone-in-the-rain-while-everyone-else-is-cozy-inside-laughing-feeling.
Wait, I think I just described three different versions of the “poor me” feeling.
Well, whatever. It SUCKS! And when you’ve poured your whole self into something like a novel, you’re allowed to feel a little sorry for yourself when you’re told it’s not good enough.
Look, as writers we all know the deal: rejection is part of the process. A HUGE part. At literally every stage of your career. So this isn’t a post to only complain.
Because rejection is inevitable, I’m learning to get comfortable with it. I have to get cozy with it. I have to get okay with walking alone in the rain.
In order to do so, I asked myself, what have I learned from rejection so far? And I actually managed to come up with a handy list!
- Every writer has been rejected. Every time a writer gets rejected an angel gets its wings. (That’s the saying, right?) It’s basically a rite of passage. If you’ve been rejected, congratulations you’re a writer!
- Thin skin makes rejection so much worse. It’s important not to take it too personally.
- Form rejections sting something fierce.
- A rejection with vague praise is worse than a rejection with specific criticism.
- Rejection with productive feedback is rare and should be cherished. When you’re given something specific to work on (notes, edits, questions), you should thank the gods and definitely that agent/editor because you’re LUCKY to have something tangible to work on instead of spinning on why they didn’t like it.
- Rejection is only as dangerous and hurtful as you let it be. My agent has been essential in helping me build a thicker skin. She has such a great attitude about rejections, always suggesting a plan going forward as each one rolls in, and it reminds me again and again to keep my eye on the prize.
- Rejection is not a failure, it’s a closed door in a hallway on the way to the open one.
- The more this book gets rejected, the hungrier and more determined I become.
- Rejection is an opportunity to rally your cheering squad. With each rejection, I send out the update, let myself cry, and lean on my family and friends whose belief in me and this book keeps me going.
- Rejection for voice is unavoidable and maddening.
- Rejection makes sense. As much as it hurts, you don’t want your book in just anyone’s hands. You want it in the hands of the people who GET it. Who love it. Who will champion it. If it’s not for them, the rejection is a merciful courtesy.
- Rejection is not a good enough reason to give up.
It’s hard to work for an industry run by something as ineffable as a market. Rejection sucks and hurts and feels personal, even though no one is trying to make you feel bad.
Remind yourself that your art doesn’t hinge on a market. Your pursuit of publishing is determined by you. Keep up with your craft, write from your truest self, and most importantly, work on something else during querying/submission because you just might go crazy otherwise.
No matter what, write anyway.
Do these reflections on rejections resonate with you? What have you learned from rejection? Let me know!