It’s Not Me, It’s You…

Posted: May 18, 2011 in Writing
Tags: , , ,

I’m no stranger to rejection. I went to a high school that held an annual Sadie Hawkins dance which I attended once in four years. When I graduated from college, I sent out 65 resumes and demo reels and got just two job offers amidst a towering stack of “not interested” letters. And then there was the refused wedding proposal. Oh wait, I guess I was the one who refused. O.K., that one probably doesn’t count. But suffice to say I’ve had some experience with the “Nope, don’t want you” scenario.

My last two writing submissions were both recently rejected, but in different ways and under different circumstances. The first was a flash fiction contest entry. At first I received a cheerful email excitedly informing me that I had made it through the first round eliminations. I was cautiously optimistic; I’d been down this road before. While it was great to make the first cut and still be in the running, I wasn’t popping the champagne cork until I knew for sure I was a winner. Which it turned out, I wasn’t. So I filed the email, drowned my sorrows in a glass of wine instead, and began looking for another place to submit that story.

The second rejection was for a 3,000 word fiction piece I submitted to a literary magazine. I was feeling pretty confident going in: the story flowed the way I wanted it to, my trusty group of readers had given it a thumbs up, I was sure I had hit it out of the park with this one. Turns out, I barely made it out of the batter’s box. I was informed by a one-sentence email that they wouldn’t be able to use my submission for their publication. So the search for a new market began.

While I’m familiar with rejection in many facets of my life, it’s still new to me when it comes to writing. It’s not that I’m such a prolific writer that everything I’ve ever submitted until recently has always been accepted. It’s that for the majority of my writing career, I’ve worked on assignment. Any article or radio commercial or publication I’ve written has been at the direction of someone else or my own idea as an editor. But to put yourself out there and share your original ideas is to open yourself up to rejection and every writer goes through it. Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Stephen King, George Orwell, even Dr. Seuss all weathered rejections before achieving success. And to be in company like that is not such a bad place to be at all.

  1. Rita Weatherbee says:

    Enjoyed reading this. My middle name is rejection. Rita Renee Rejection Weatherbee. I have a drawerful of rejections, but I get excited when I get a rejection email or letter back, because at least they responded. Many don’t.
    Twice now, I have had personal essays accepted and the publishers have been hanging on them for 2 years and each time I inquire about them, they tell me they are still considering them for publication in their books. One book is about online dating experiences – and yes, that’s how I met my current husband – ha! The other was about my personal experience with a mentor. Anyhow, maybe by the time I’m 90 these essays will show up in a book and I’ll have something to show my great, great grandchildren…

  2. Love your positive attitude about rejection, Rita! And I agree, I’d rather hear something back than nothing. Although “that is the most amazing thing I’ve ever read – we’re sending a truckload of money as an advance” would be my preferred message! Good luck on the essays – I’ll be watching for those books, however long it takes.

  3. manda lynn says:

    brace yourself!!! most places have less than a 5% (MUCH less) acceptance rate, and every rejection is just further proof that you’ve been brave enough to toss a little corner of your soul to strangers – to let them evaluate your work based on their own very personal preferences. every submission and every rejection is just proof of your bravery. and rejections sting less and less over time. stick with it, and buy some more wine…..

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