Dealing with Rejection

The next time you receive a rejection letter, quit writing.

Tell yourself that you are not going to write for two weeks. At the end of those two weeks, are you happier? If so, you may have found the answer to all your troubles. Quit.

Every time a rejection rolls in, and I’m pretty much playing marbles here, I feel like I should take my shit dreams and toss them into the toilet where they belong. My brain overflows with doubt. I’m not good enough. I’m doomed to failure. No matter how hard a try, I’m never going to make it. Then an hour later, I’m editing my novel or working on another short story.

I can’t help myself. I don’t have a choice. I’m not someone who writes. I’m a writer.

If you aren’t a writer that doesn’t mean you can’t write. It just means you don’t have to. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Not everyone that plays poker is a poker player. Not everyone that paints pictures is a painter. Hell, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Do you really want to spend your life suffering for art? If you have a choice, if you can find happiness somewhere else, go do that.
<h2>The Proper Way to Feel About Rejection</h2>
For those of us that don’t have a choice, however, constant rejection is difficult to deal with. Almost everything you read on rejection would have you believe that there is something wrong with you for resenting it. You start thinking, “If I was a real writer, I would paper my walls with rejection slips, grit my teeth, and take it like a man.” But seriously, fuck that. If you want to cry after every single rejection you receive, do it.

You have to write, so react any way you choose.

Whenever I receive a rejection, and like I said, I receive a lot of rejections, I always feel like it’s a personal assault. I feel depressed. It’s my story that was rejected, it was me.

It’s difficult not to dive into the whole <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>rejectomancy</a> thing, looking for meaning where none exists. Was this a personalized rejection? Was it a higher tier rejection? Does the editor always sign their name like that?

Looking into the nuances may be a waste of time, but again, like crying, there is nothing wrong with wanting some answers. Just don’t wallow. If you’re spending more time worrying about what has been rejected rather than worrying about how to improve, you may have problems. This may indicate that you don’t want to be a writer, you want to have been a writer and anyone who has studied craft knows that this is the worst kind of passive.

“It doesn’t matter if your stories are rejected. You should only write for yourself” is another heaping pile o’ bullshit. Sure, you should write stories that you want to write, but the whole point of writing stories is to have other people read them. You shouldn’t write for yourself. You should write for an audience. If your work is constantly being rejected, you don’t have an audience. It’s that simple.

Go ahead, throw a plate against the wall. Drink a fifth of whisky. Eat a cookie. React anyway you want.
<h2>So How do You Cope?</h2>
You can take the Heinlein approach and submit every story to every market until it sells somewhere. So you made $2 and the cover looks like it was made with Microsoft Paint, so what? Your work is published and at least it’s out there in the world. If you’re okay with that, good for you.

This doesn’t work for me. My ego is far too large.

If a story isn’t good enough to be published in the top markets than I don’t want it published at all. But there are a lot of problems with this approach as well. Stories are not rejected based solely on the quality of the work. Your story may be strawberry pie, but the editors at the all top publications want pumpkin. Oh well, move on to the next one. Eventually you’re bound to find the right flavor to bring a smile to their faces.

I waffle back and forth about the proper approach. Sometimes I think, “I’m going to stop submitting short stories completely. Just write them and let them sit in a drawer.” Sometimes I think, “I just need to write fifty more and send them to every single market available.” And sometimes I want to curl up into a little ball and die in the corner.

But it doesn’t really matter. I’m a writer and I couldn’t give up if I tried.

For me, I’ve found the best approach for dealing with constant rejection is cynicism. I keep writing and submitting and I tell myself that I will never be published. That way, when the rejection inevitably arrives, it’s expected. Yes, It still feels like a direct kick to the nuts, but it’s almost like I was wearing a cup. Eventually I’ll still be able to have children.

What are your strategies for dealing with rejections? Any other thoughts on this subject? Please let me know!


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