As a writer - How do you deal with rejection?
I send my writing off to publishers, agents, online journals etc fairly regularly. As a result, I fairly regularly get rejections.
Now, if you're like me, you will have poured your heart and soul into everything you write. Every word has been pondered, scribbled out, changed and then sometimes changed back again. Your characters have become the best imaginary friends in the whole wide world - so when someone rejects your writing - it's like they've put a bullet to the head of all your characters. This someone, who rejected your work, has blood on their hands.
Sorry, got carried away - it's a process - as the American's like to say.
So, how do I deal with the rejections?
I sort of grieve* for the writing that person said, 'wasn't right for them.'
There are famously, five stages of grief - Denial, anger, bargaining, depression & acceptance.
- Denial - There is not much point denying it - you have your email saying NO! (yes, I realise they put lots of nice words around it but that's how it feels) - so let's move on.
- Anger - Yep, it's allowed, you are allowed to be angry that someone hasn't accepted your work - Because, of course you checked prior to submitting what types of things they liked and you made sure your work fitted the bill. And you fulfilled all the various and different formatting requirements (please see here my previous blog about that) which took ages - It's not like your sent your horror story to a romance magazine FFS!!! So, why? WHY didn't they like it.
- Bargaining - This is a bit of a weird one, I don't know about you, but I tell myself that my work has been rejected for a reason - that perhaps my short story that this PERSON (yep, still angry) didn't like - will be accepted by someone fabulous who will then show it to their very famous film director friend (Greta Gerwig/Jane Campion for example - who would also become my future best friend) and they will love it. Then I get to write the screen play and visit Hollywood... And so the fantasy continues.
- Depression - This is the worst bit. This is the bit where I hide under the duvet and decide there's no point in writing - I mean - What is it? What good does it do? Who needs to read stuff? I decide I'm a terrible writer and no one likes my work and that anyone who has ever said nice things about it are actually lying. Yep LYING! (still angry). Because we all know my writing is s**t. The depression bit is awful.
- Acceptance - OK - I've pulled myself out of the duvet and finally brushed my teeth (which my husband and kids prefer - the cat likes me to stay put as I am warm). I have wandered back to my laptop and let it turn on and I have realised that lots of talented kind people have said nice things about my writing and no, they are not lying, because they would tell me - in a nice way - if they thought I could improve things. Some good examples of this (and here comes the blatant self promotion) are from the lovely authors and bloggers who reviewed my book The Solstice Baby and Other Stories on the blog tour - so a shout out to the following people:
- Isla at Isla and her adventures
- Lou at Lou's writing news, cues and reviews
- Ruth at RE Loten
- Lily at Lily's Writing Life
Well, that's my 'process.' Most of which, happens in my head and in reality, is over in about an hour.
I have toughened up these last few years and built a little wall against all the rejection around me. I just wish I'd learned that earlier in my career. I stopped writing for nearly thirty years because some of my poetry was rejected back in the 1980s. So, if you are an emerging writer reading this. Don't be disheartened. I have published two books I have written three novels and have plans for five more plus another poetry collection. I spent years not writing but in all that time, I was still thinking about what I could write. I just wish I hadn't wasted so many years.
* As someone who has grieved for people, this grief is not the same. The five stages of grief are used here as a tool to demonstrate my meaning.
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