Friday, April 21, 2006

How To Deal With Rejection

For several months I was playing the waiting game. I have hundreds of women’s short stories out there (OK thirteen), several picture books, the first novel of my trilogy and ideas for short chapter books for 7-9 year olds. I have several proposals in for education books and no replies.

Every morning I checked my email hoping for a response or the post box looking for a letter that isn’t a rejection. For weeks, there has been nothing. Thoughts go through your head such as, maybe, my post has got lost and been delivered to the wrong house, or worse still maybe that important email got Spammed and I accidentally deleted it.

Today, five rejections landed on my mat. How depressing. Yes, I know, I mustn’t take it personally; it’s a part of writing; and all well-established writers have been rejected at first, and are even rejected now. I know all this, but deep down it doesn’t make you feel any better.

No, I don’t expect a publisher to accept everything everyone submits. Even if every submission was spectacular, they still couldn’t publish every one and in reality, I wouldn’t want them to. I want my manuscript to be accepted because it was impossible to reject.

So am I happier holding the rejection letter in my hand, knowing they decided not to publish it, or did I prefer the weeks of ignorant bliss? I don’t know.

As a writer, I put myself on the line by requesting to be rejected. We all demand that publishers respond to us and let us know what they want to do with our writing. We have to in order to know what to do next with that particular article or book proposal.

It’s true I feel stupid and fed up when I get a rejection. I always beat myself up about it. But I have learnt some ways to overcome this. The best advice ever that was given to me was on a course run by Jane Wenham Jones, an author and writer for women’s magazine. She said:

  • Keep writing.
  • Keep sending items out.
  • Make yourself feel better by sending out the same package that day to another publisher.
  • Be very businesslike and handle your submissions in a non-emotional way.

So, while the writing itself can be emotional, the submission process really shouldn’t be. Sometimes I find it takes a few days to accept my story or article was rejected, but when I do I am always a lot happier and filled with renewed energy.

Whilst I’m coming to terms with the return of my manuscript I try and do something else to take my mind off it, at the very least I hire a DVD, making sure the film is guaranteed to make me laugh, one that will thrill me with its special effects, or breakneck action scenes.

Or better still, I give myself a boost with some retail therapy. I don’t actually have to buy anything just a walk around the shops helps to clear my head.

It often makes me feel better to pour my heart out to someone else, a family member or a friend that never fails to make me laugh. I always think of the BT advert, ‘It’s good to talk’. It’s true, you can make someone’s day by getting back in touch. That’s guaranteed to make you feel good!
Remember there's always an alternative to moping on your own. Rejection hurts, but you may find, like me, your spirit is more resilient than you ever thought possible.

Then, you too can say to yourself: "You don’t want my manuscript? That’s fine, I’ll send it to someone else.”

So pass me the chocolate, I’ve got letters to post.


Nicky said...

I keep a list of "stats" about rejections above my pc screen - one of them reads " Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time received over 30 rejections. It took 10 years to get published and then went on to win a Newbery Award". I take heart from that when I consider my 13 rejections on my fantasy manuscript!
And then there is the affirmation that stares at me from the wall: "A publisher will be lucky to find me!"
And finally,"If I'm not getting rejected, I'm not reaching far enough." At which point I visualise myself being published and keep on writing and sending out submissions.

Anita Marion Loughrey said...

What a fantastic thing to do. I love the visualisation approach and think it does work. it is what positive thinking is all about.