There is rejection and there is REJECTION. I had a mega rejection last year over a piece that had already been written and published, from a fellow who was having none of it. Writers are sensitive souls by and large and yet they have to deal with rejection of their most personal craft. I was crushed. I completely forgot the mantra of one of my wonderful mentors…when you have success, you are allowed 24 hours to gloat and when you have a rejection, you have 24 hours to wallow. This is self managed, naturally, although your good buddies, or your husband may well say ‘Enough!’ or ‘Get over it!’ or ‘Get your clothes on and step away from the chocolate,’ and in fact when you look back on a past nasty, like I am today, I can remind myself – that I used up more than my share of the blues already, and I can let it go now. Let it go and try to see what I can do with it.
That’s the cool OK thing about rejection, you can pick it apart and find positives in it. My critic reckoned that my work had too many stories that got in the way of the hard facts, which devastated me until I realised that that was actually what I was trying to achieve. He wanted to read the facts, but I had wanted to write something that would be inviting to a person who didn’t process straight non-fiction too well.
It was true that his opinion (and how it was delivered) stayed echoing in my ears over the voices of all the people who had gotten in touch to say how much they liked the work and how accessible they found it. Stupid human nature.
My tips for dealing with rejection:
Howl and cry for 24 hours, but then stop.
Be kind to yourself.
Don’t take it personally – this is about the work, not about you. It can be hard to seperate the two, so think of it like this: your rejector doesn’t know you (I’m assuming), he only knows what he thinks while he’s reading.
Analyse the rejection, is there something positive to be gleaned from it?
Can you apply the logic of the criticism to the work?
Was he the right guy to send it to? Do you need to do more research to find a better fit? There’s no point sending a book about your own personal sea-change to a guy who publishes a political eco magazine.
If it is all too raw, put the work aside for a while, and re-examine it when you are less emotional about it.
Be brave and get used to it. All writers get rejected, and it doesn’t just stop after the first few times you get published.
And finally, buy some TimTams. There are so many different types out there, you are sure to find one you like.
Because just as we learn (eventually) that not everyone is going to automatically like us and want to be our friends (I know, shock horror, right?), we also must learn that not everyone is going to like, empathise or agree with our writing.
And that is OK.