Hello again, Intrepid Readers
I hope that you've all worked towards your personal goals and towards increasing world awesome – because that's how you all roll.
Today let's talk about something that no one likes but that everyone experiences: Rejection.
Rejection is a staple in life, especially in the writing life. Ideally, you're always pushing out essays, poems, novels, and/or stories that are accepted (YAY!), not accepted yet (hoping!), or freshly rejected (Sad Day!).
There are a lot of resources out there on how to "fail well" (or as Maxwell says, "Failing Forward"), but rejection isn't necessarily an indication of failure, even though it can sure feel that way. So with that in mind, let's look at how we can cope with rejection in a way that is healthy and reasonable.
Here's what Rejection is NOT:
1) A valuation of you as a person
(No matter how vitriolically written the rejection slip, no editor or slush-pile reader knows the whole of your person, and so really they're just writing based on the sample provided).
2) A valuation of your abilities as a writer.
(Again, the rejection is only based on this single piece – or clutch of poems – so, no rejection can categorically state that you're a bad writer.)
3) A reason to stop writing.
... for more than like a day. A little moping time is allowable, but don't let one rejection kick you out of the writing business forever. To survive, you'll need all the persistence and strength that you can muster.
4) Proof that you'll "never write anything good."
Like #3, you can wallow a bit, but the only way you'll never write something good is if you quit writing.
Bonus!) A rejection slip isn't even necessarily proof that your piece is bad.
Everything has a few weak spots that could be shored up, but if you're afraid that you're going to over-edit and take out all the luster of a piece, then maybe leave it alone for a while. Or get feedback from a trusted reader (which you hopefully did already). Maybe the place you submitted wasn't looking for that sort of piece at that specific time. There are tons of reasons that good pieces get passed over. It's hard to deal with, but it's true.
Here's what Rejection actually IS:
1) An acknowledgement that this specific piece in this specific incarnation is not being chosen for that specific print of that specific publisher.
Tune it up, send it out to other journals, send it to that same publisher for later consideration, etc. Don't necessarily give up on that piece, but don't hold onto it with a death grip either.
2) A Reason to keep improving your craft
Maybe your piece wasn't as strong as it could have been. Maybe you threw in a few cliches, or you swung for the fence with some hackneyed trope. Anyway you cut it, KEEP WRITING. And keep learning more about your market and your craft.
3) A sign that you're sending your work out to brave the world.
And sometimes braving the world is tough, but you've crafted the best piece that you knew how at the time. Give yourself kudos. Reward yourself for trying.
4) A sign that you're writing and that you're taking your writing seriously.
And isn't that sort of a reward in and of itself?
And finally here's one thing that rejection MIGHT mean:
Rejection might mean that this piece isn't salable right now. You might need to shelve it for a while and work on some other projects. Or you might need to re-evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and rewrite the piece towards your strengths.
There are only two types of writers, the type who publish and the type who give up.
Persevere, and you'll make it.
As always, thanks for reading.