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

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353 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.

    Like

    • 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.

    Like

    • 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!

      Like

  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.

    Like

    • 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!

      Like

  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

  5. lrrutherford says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have been too scared to send my manuscript out into the world of rejection… I don’t even know how to go about submitting a manuscript or to whom I would be sending it too. If you have any advice, or if anyone else does.. I’d love some guidance.

    Like

    • hollandrae says:

      Thank you for reading! It depends on what genre you’re writing! In genre fiction (romance, mystery sci-fi) there’s more opportunity to submit unrepresented (without an agent) than fiction, but there’s opportunities for everyone!

      Like

  6. LooneyB says:

    I have just happened upon your Blogs and love them. I am sure that you will certainly become a better Writer because, for sure, you are a ( good ) Writer already. You have a great easy way of writing that encourages people to keep reading. I think you know the magic formula, you are there already. Maybe you just dont know it… 🙂

    Like

    • hollandrae says:

      Ahh, thank you so much for reading and your incredibly kind words! ❤ It makes such a huge difference to hear that readers and writers enjoy what I do and I really appreciate it! ❤ ❤ best of luck on your own journey as well!

      Like

  7. Astandane says:

    Having worked in Sales, you learn pretty quickly that rejection is normal. ‘No’ is normal, and you’re likely to hear it a lot.

    So for me, I don’t really get broken down by it, and we have to remember that when sending a submission, we are ASKING for a yes OR no; we can’t get upset about it!

    Like

  8. Rob Fike says:

    Rejection is hard to get around, move past, and confront head-on. I’m probably in self-publish mode because of this fear. Maybe it’s time to admit I’m afraid to be rejected, and dive in anyway. Thanks for posting.

    Like

    • hollandrae says:

      It’s nearly impossible to get around rejection–and even as a self-pub author you will come across mean-spirited or ill-informed reviews. But we put ourselves out into the world to tell the stories we love because it’s important to us and that makes it worth it! I do hope you dive in and I wish you strength and luck on your journey! Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. jackiekierm says:

    Thank you for your candidness and the reality of a writer’s journey. Your piece is so well written. After having stopped writing for a number of years, I’m retired and back to it and did get my first rejection recently. It is humbling, but a good reality check that there are so many of us out there churning away at our pieces and we are all in the same boat. So, yes, we keep on writing because that is what we love to do. And you have expressed so many of our sentiments so accurately!

    Like

    • hollandrae says:

      Thank you so very much for your kind words! I’ve learned (the hard way!) that the only way to the other side is through rejection so that helps me compartmentalize all the “no”, but it’s still so challenging! You’re right though! When it’s important, we keep doing it! I hope you continue to love your writing–and so much luck on your journey!

      Like

  10. hfjcreative says:

    Thank you so much for this article! I am not a writer, but I am a Graphic Designer but it seems like we have the same struggles. At this moment in life, I needed this to push to move me forward! I too get discouraged with rejection.

    Like

    • hollandrae says:

      Thank you so much for reading! Anytime we share our art with the world, we’re vulnerable and it can be both wonderful and challenging. I wish you all the best on your artistic endeavors! Don’t give up!

      Like

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