Thoughts for Thursday – Rejection Revisited

Is it possible to be a sheepish kitten? If so, that would be....Me.

While I didn’t win a recent fiction contest, the editor notified me that he accepted my story. I am considering graciously withdrawing, on the pretext of further work on the story. (Can I get prosecuted for pretexting in this case?) Is that just completely bad form? Need to really give this some thought.

Okay, maybe, just maybe, I overreacted yesterday (insert YOUR favorite understatement here). But, though rejection in its many guises is part and parcel of a writer’s life, it's hard not to take it hard.

As everyone’s comments on yesterday’s post show, we all experience the R word. It broke my heart that some folks won’t submit work because they fear Rejection. That's just not a good enough reason to deprive the world of your best creative self!

As writers, we all need to accept – nay, embrace – Rejection as part of A Writer’s Life. If we really want to write, rejection shouldn’t stop us. If we really aren’t writers, rejection shouldn’t matter. (Feel free to bookmark this and throw the words in my face next time I whine about a rejection.)

And, as you can see by my experience with this particular story (which lost a contest but was accepted for publication), Rejection doesn’t mean “You Suck.” (Okay, sometimes it does. But sometimes it does not.) Why should we let Rejection Of Our Writing stop us from writing or sending work out? We don’t stop looking for a job because one employer didn’t make us an offer, do we?

I’ll have more on this in future posts – next time, from the Editor’s viewpoint…


Stefanie said...

Congratulations! Can you ask the editor if you can make a few changes before publication? I'm too new at the whol submission game to know the ins and outs of etiquette.

Kate S. said...

When I first started sending stories out, the rejections that I received made me feel like a real writer. You might think it would take an acceptance to do that, but that's not how it was for me. Just being bold enough to send my stuff out into the world made me feel like I was finally in the game, taking it seriously, seeing myself as a professional, even if I wasn't yet earing money by my pen. (Incidentally, since I know you're a fellow Betsy-Tacy fan, remember how Mr. Ray used to tease Betsy about how the postal service should create round-trip stamps for the stories that she sent right back out there as soon as they were returned to her?) Now, I expect acceptances, but when I don't get them, I don't take it personally. I know that there's a ton of good stuff out there seeking a home and only a few slots to fill at the shrinking number of magazines that publish short fiction. If my story is rejected, it may simply be because another good story had more subjective appeal to that editor than mine did. The answer is to send it elsewhere where my story will hopefully be the one that has more subjective appeal for the editor than someone else's. I agree with you that we have to embrace rejection as part of the writing life, not in a masochistic way, but in a matter-of-fact way.

Pauline said...

LK, congratulations! For the etiquette matter, you should really consider if the changes you plan will really (that is, objectively) improve your story, while not changing it too much (what editors hate). After all, when you sent the story out for the contest, you thought it was good and finished (for good), right? And someone seems to agree with that first impression, even if his voice didn't win over the whole jury.

LK said...

These are fanastic observations and comments, thank you!

Stefanie, take heed to what Kate S. and Pauline said.

Kate, I am going to take your comment and turn it into a post, if that is okay with you.

Pauline, good point, good point. I am being Turncoat Kitten, really. I want to "up my game," in terms of sending to a different league of publications (more national, etc.) and in general taking my writing profession to a new place. So I was reneging on the whole deal, in hopes of maybe winning another contest or gettint into a more "visible" publication (or whatever). Awful. Well, I learned a lesson here.

bloglily said...

Ms. Kit, I'm so happy to hear this news. And I'm looking forward to that post on rejection.

litlove said...

I'm just so glad to hear there was a positive outcome. It's wonderful that the story was accepted, and of course you can do what you like with that offer. The point is to feel profoundly encouraged, and nothing else really matters. Yesterday, you didn't know things would turn out the way they did, and you were just being honest about how you felt. That's what we read your blog for!

mandarine said...

If you encourage shy writers to submit and shed their fear of rejection, you will actually increase competition, therefore rejection rates ;-)

If we want less rejection, we have two choices:
1 - write less
2 - read more
I vote #2

LK said...

Actually, Mandarine, I see it as three choices:

1 - write less
2 - write more
3 - read more

I go with #2 and #3.

I don't fear shy writers -- if they turn out to be good enough to get published, more power to 'em! :)

mandarine said...

I said 'if we want less rejection'. With 'write more' + 'read more', you get a stable rejection rate. Your #3 would have to be 'read much more' to offset your 'write more' #2.

That would be fun, but I am only starting the 'read more' phase. No time for 'much more' right now.

LK said...

Oh, Mandarine, you are much too clever for me! That's pretty good. I'm in the read more phase, too, alas.

LK said...

Thanks, Litlove, for those positive vibes!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Something similar happened to me a few years ago: While I didn't win the contest, I was a finalist, and the magazine wanted to publish the story. I told them they could publish the story as is or wait for my revisions, which would be done in a week or so and which would have a whole new scene added. They kindly waited and published it. So tell them honestly what's what, and a grand(er) story might be published!

all best,