You go through the I quit sequence. Am I just rubbish, the worst writer in the world? You go through the I’m never going to write again thing. Then you read some published stories, in some print mag, or online ezine, and you think, ‘No, I could never write as badly as that.’
Rejection, hurts: in love; in friendships; at work; when making job applications, when making offers of help which nobody takes up; in conversations when you are interrupted or when others don’t respond to what you say. As well as in writing. You are warned to expect to be rejected, that it’s all part of the game. You try. After all, you’re just a newbie. Then, you have a few successes, but still more rejections than acceptances, and each one still hurts. You’ve invested time and effort. You’ve exposed yourself by sharing things that are personal and private. They don’t want it. How dare they not want it?
A little voice inside you asks, ‘Is it just me that feels this way?’ Now you’re berating yourself again, for not being a proper professional writer.
Towards the end of last week, I asked my Facebook friends how they coped with rejection. Many of them said they would ‘go for a walk, let their shoulders ‘slump a bit’, have a rant or a sulk. So it’s not just me that feels rejection so keenly?
They added that they would get some more feedback on their work, perhaps from another author or professional feedback from an editor. One said she would look carefully at what the editor who had rejected her work had said about it, but, if that editor had said only, in so many words, ‘not for us’ (as they often do), that’s difficult. They would also look at their work themselves and see how they could improve it, and again at markets to find a better fit for their story. But several warned against over-analysing. ‘Don’t dwell on it too long. Life is too short, and there are more books to be written,’ wrote one published author, and another equally successful writer posted, ‘I just think that’s fine… [My books are] not everyone’s cup of tea.’ Don’t you love the chuzpah?
A non-writer friend reminded me that J K Rowling had one of her books rejected when she subbed under another name. Moreover, wasn’t Harry Potter rejected nine or twelve times (depending upon which website you visit)? These are the sort of stories that keep us scribblers going. My friend Patsy Collins suggested that it helps to have several pieces ‘out there’, so that there’s always the chance that the next response will be a yes. You have to believe that.
And, I say, keep doing other things. You are not all writer. I went for a walk by the River Colne yesterday, with three great friends. I’ve used my photos to illustrate this post.