Monday, October 19, 2009

On Rejections


I had the misfortune of being caught in an angry shower last Tuesday, which apparently has short circuited my brain activity. A week passed in catching up with TV shows and movies, but I am back bouncier, more organized and full of analogies on writing topics.

This Monday test subject is the rejection letter aka the Axe, the Depression Pill, the Scythe that killed Creativity, the Big NO. Here is the deal and the faster you come to terms with the harsh day order the better you will adapt to the whole concept. Rejections are as common as the air you breathe and if you want to be published, say hello to rejections. It's a fact of life, which I am sure I am repeating for the trillionth time. So get over it or I am pretty sure publication won't come easy to you.

A few days ago I received a rejection on three stories aimed at the same anthology. Actually this one is the inspiration for this post. Thankfully these submissions are a mile away from my field and the initiative very spontaneous, so this rejection didn't stir up the hornet nest I call doubt, but rather poked my brain matter. Here are my brilliant and repetitive thoughts on the matter. Writing is art and you tell stories. Publishing is trade and you sell adventure, magic and love. From this point of view, the rejection is the minor setback to finding the right buyer.

A rejection is a rejection and every writer gets these. It's the way authors behave that separates writers from writers. For me there are two coping techniques: reactive or proactive.

The divas react, raise the dead from their graves with their screams, write dissertations to editors in the ever famous 'I am always right tone'. Up until the last MTV VMAs I had no code name for these people, but now Kanye West applies with full force. *pause for laughter* I am speaking about a lot of talk about greatness and no professional behavior to portray that.

The martyrs, now we carry our wounds with pride, because rejections wound our ego and self esteem, even if we are the only ones that see them. Also we go back to the beginning of the cycle that led to the rejection and hone our craft.

Rejections will always prey on our weaknesses and writers are miniature galaxies brimming with personal tragedies. It's part of our charm to be vulnerable and emotional. Everybody has doubts. I fear I will never see my name on a respected novel, because my native language is not English, but if you look at Ilona Andrews you will see she made it. I have a friend, who is dyslexic and still manages to make the magazines and sell stories and hopes to overcome her disability and write a novel. I hope she does, because she will sky rocket. There are countless reasons for this craft to be hard and make you want to quit. Rejections are the big bad bullies that taunt, tease and gloats.

However let's break them down on a functional level. Yes, rejections:

~ make you hurt
~ make you detest how business has corrupted this art form
~ make you hate your craft at times

but they also

~ weed out all those that are unfit for the industry from lazy writers to pseudo writers
~ harden your skin [totally applicable in daily encounters]
~ teach discipline and determination
~ is another reason to get back on your ass and write

So soldier, carry your battle scar and march on forward.


Marcia Colette said...

teach discipline and determination

This is probably the biggest lesson I've learned about rejection. Whether it comes with a some advice or not, there's something about a rejection that kicks me in the butt and says "soldier on soldier." And I usually do, whether it's to keep submitting or to start something new tha has been on my mind for a while.

Harry Markov said...

@ Marcia: Couldn't agree more with you. It's all about the writer's attitude and world view that allows him to interpret what a rejection should mean.