Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Things I learned from Rejection

I have talked about rejection about how they could be used as constructive tools, but to be honest they make you feel like that picture. It's like being shot in the ass, which is not at all pleasant. In that last post I list what rejections do apart from triggering self-doubt and reopen old wounds:

~ 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

I received a new rejection letter yesterday and it thought me a few new things.

~ No matter how tough you are, the writer is an emotional individual, who suffers from ups and downs, and the rejection is a natural down. It's one of those bad moments that sour your mood. Even if it doesn't elicit tears, the rejection sends the message 'you are not there, yet' and nobody wants to hear that. After all, we are all special snowflakes.

~ Rejections are impersonal. I think that is the hardest aspect of a rejection to fully realize. Our work is personal to us. Our work is impersonal to us. Trying to view our own work as impersonal on business level is a survival skill to numb the sting.

~ Writing after getting a rejection is a bit of a nightmare, because the doubt sharpens the blade of our inner critic. I mistrust what I write and edit it until it's a hapless cock-up, until the text loses its original voice, meaning and vitality. The rejection came, while I was revising and the effect was immediate. Do I need to add tags here? Does this make sense? Is that expression too much? Do I need to add more explanation? Thankfully, I decided to trust my story and give it to my alpha reader, who thought that overall it was a strong piece.

Subsequently, I was also reminded that writing is subjective and that rejection makes it a bit harder to judge for yourself [not that was any easier in the first place]. Always have someone to help you stabilize.

That's from me. What has rejection taught you?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, Harry, although I have to totally disagree with the 'You are not there yet' as a rejection reason. You are more than welcome to feel that as an emotion but the hard truth is that some stories go on from rejection for one publication to win awards after being published at another.

It's about whether it's right for that publishing house, that publisher, that publication and NOT whether it's there yet.

If that makes sense.

Harry Markov said...

Yes, I was talking that primal and usually first subconscious response to a rejection. It's not that I do not realize that [I should have added that as a lesson too, since I dusted myself off and now I'm tackling a new magazine].

Charles Gramlich said...

"Doubt sharpens the blade of the inner critic." Now that is a great line, and very true.

Although Markdeniz is right about why many stories get rejected, it is a better strategy, if one can handle it, to believe that you indeed have to get better. Anything that makes you work toward getting better will ease the way to publication.

T.S. Bazelli said...

Rejection has taught me that to succeed requires persistence, but that every one brings you a little closer to the goal.

~hugs~ don't give up!

Harry Markov said...

@ Charles: It's really tricky to guess why you get rejected: the you-are-not-for-us or the you-are-not-there-yet. Either way, as a sensation it's negative, but totally impersonal, which is also why you gotta keep moving.

Harry Markov said...

@ Tessa: You are right as always. It should be a driving force rather than a stick in your wheels. Thanks for the encouragement.