Hello Rejection, My Old Friend

I was getting up for that mid-afternoon cup of coffee when I got an email.


Any writer – author, journalist or poet – who has work out in the submission pipeline, knows the email moment. The notification pops up on your phone or in your inbox and your heart takes a wild, insane ride. First, it goes up – way too high up – as your expectations soar. Then, you ground yourself, reminders of just how much the deck is stacked against you flit through your mind. Your heart plummets. Finally, finally, you get the email open – your eyes scan, searching for those all important words – pleased, unfortunately, with regret.

It does get easier. I have gotten a lot of rejections. In fact, I pride myself on being pretty good at divorcing the rejection of my work from the rejection of me as a person. There are a thousand reasons why a submission might not fit with a publishing house, magazine or newspaper and none of them have to do with my personality. As of late, the rejections have mostly been for agent requests. Given that agents are very specialized, those thanks but no thanks have been rolling off my back pretty easily – through awhile back I got six rejections in five days, and one was at midnight on Friday. That was tough, give a girl a break.

So, I get an email.

Automatically, I know this is a bad sign. This publishing house will call if they want to move your manuscript forward. I know this, but I let myself hope anyway.

It is a very constructive rejection. It is a hopeful and kind and that almost makes it worse. Like, if I had just been a little better at this, if I had changed that one element of my 80,000-word manuscript, maybe it would have been enough.

Who knows? I’d like to say who cares, but I do care. It’s less about boo hoo, woe is me, no one likes my writing and more about the constant struggle to move forward with my career. If this publishing house had accepted me, that would have been it. But, since they didn’t, I’m back where I was and without even the hope or potential of this acceptance to make me feel like I might be working towards something.

Alright. So what do we do? coffee-2151200_1920

Well, this is it. This is the part of being a writer that sucks so much worse than the movies show. This part hurts.

Suck it up buttercup.

This is as much a part of being a writer as putting the words to the page. It’s as much a part of being a writer as the late night edits and the early morning social media marketing. This as much a part of being a writer as every submission, every query letter, every synopsis.

These are the writer’s twelve labors, the baptism by fire, the hot coals we have to cross in order to make this our careers. If it were easy, if there was a path made of smooth, cool stones to cross this lake of fire, then everyone would. Every single kid from your creative writing classes would be a writer. Every freshman who worked on the school paper would write for New York Magazine. But it’s not easy. There is no clear path. Rejections suck.

But they don’t kill you. It’s easy to be a writer on the day when the words flow and the Amazon rankings spike. It’s easy to be a writer at the party, where people ask you cool questions about your cool and mysterious job. It’s not those easy days that separate the weak from the strong, the successful from the I could have been a writer. It’s not the easy days. It’s the days like these.

So we pick ourselves up. We submit again. We edit, we query and we submit again. We submit again. No one said the life of a writer was going to be easy. But, if we’re still standing at the end of all this, it might just be worth it. ♦



How do you get back up after that hard rejection? Check out tips here


332 thoughts on “Hello Rejection, My Old Friend

  1. V Ray says:

    I just want to say, thanks for this. It is difficult at times, and it’s good to know that I’m not alone (though sometimes it feels like it!)

    Thank you for posting the advice.


    • hollandrae says:

      Thank you so much for reading and your kind words. I can promise you that every artist goes through this experience many times in their lives and you are no alone. Best of luck on your artistic adventures!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. crazdwriter says:

    I have yet to start the sending in queries part again but I do remember the rejections I received and how hard it was. I was younger then. But as I enter the process of finishing typing up the story, editing it myself then finding an editor, I brace myself as I think about sending it to agents and publishers but it is my dream to become published so forward I march. I know I’ll get rejected but I will keep them as a reminder that I did it! I got the nerve to once again try to get my work published into a book.

    And your article is very well written. I truly enjoyed reading it.


    • hollandrae says:

      I’m glad to hear you were able to take something away! It’s incredibly challenging to make that distinction because we pour our hearts and souls into our work, but we need to! Otherwise every rejection will hurt too much. I wish you the best of luck on your journey!


  3. theuchegod says:

    Great write up Thanks
    Rejection is not good at all, it doesn’t matter the circumstances in which it occurred.
    Sometimes it comes like a big blow that knocks one down, however, the great thing about it is the ability to get up and move on and not remain on the ground feeling sorry for oneself and becoming depressed. Life goes on after rejection.


    • hollandrae says:

      You’re absolutely right! Getting up is what separates the women from the girls, so we keep going even when it hurts! Thank you so much for reading and all the best on your own artistic journey!


  4. khalilullah1 says:

    A great read! When I wrote my first novel, I was far too young to know what’s worthy of being sent to a publisher and what isn’t and I received countless rejections because I just didn’t know how important the editing phase of a manuscript is.
    This is an extremely useful post for people who are struggling to cope with rejections as well as those that wish to send their manuscripts out for submissions. Understand that the road isn’t going to be straight and that someone rejecting your work for publication doesn’t mean that they are rejecting you as a writer! Keep doing what you do and always be on the lookout to learn as much as you can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hollandrae says:

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your own stories! It’s absolutely part of the process and remembering that makes it easier to manage every single “no”! I hope your journey is full of yesses from here out and wish you all the best!

      Liked by 1 person

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