All Those Rejections

Rejection is something that we all must learn to live with, and it’s not always a bad thing. It’s all in how we choose to think about it. I’m sure about now you’re wondering— who the heck is she trying to kid?

We’ve all felt the sting of rejection, at one time or another, regardless of who we are. It’s just the way life is.  But, the way I see it, if it wasn’t for the rejections in life the acceptances would be meaningless.

Think about it for a moment.

Try and imagine a world were we succeeded at everything we did. Where would the challenge be? I’d venture to say we might even find ourselves bored to tears. Would you even bother to try anything new if you knew there was absolutely no challenge, that you’d succeed on your very first try?

For most writers rejections are a dime a dozen and I’m no different. Though all my years of writing I have received a very impressive supply of rejection slips. And being the pack rat that I am I’ve saved each and every one. At the time it seemed to make good sense. It was proof of all my hard work on those days when I used to wonder if it was all worth it.

I’m called to remember a certain day, years ago, when I was tickled pink to have received three acceptances in one day for various short stories I had submitted. Just imagine…Three acceptances all in one day!!! I was on top of the world. I soon came back down when, shortly thereafter, I received four rejections in one day. Sounds quite impossible but it’s the truth. My, but the Universe does have a way of keeping us humble.

Most of my rejection slips are simple form letters. One is addressed to “Laurie.” (Have I mentioned I despise being called Laurie? Not that Laurie is a bad name…In fact, it’s a perfectly fine name…It’s just not my name) One editor thanked me for sending my poems…Um ….Poems?.. Hello….I sent a short story. One rejection letter even sent me back material that was meant for another writer. And no, in case you’re wondering, her name wasn’t Laurie.

On the flip side of that, I’ve also received some very lovely rejection letters with valuable bits of advice and words of encouragement that spurred me onward. Had it not been for some of those rejection letters I might have given up writing long before I ever received my first acceptance. That’s why I say that rejection is not always a bad thing.

But now I’m ready to say so long to all those saved rejection slips. It’s a brand new year not to mention a brand new decade. I no longer have room for those letters in my life. They’ve outlived their usefulness. I’m tired of them taking up space in my life. I’ve worked hard over the years. My acceptances are proof of that. No need to cling to that negative stuff anymore.

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16 Comments

  1. Wow, Laura! Isn’t that interesting … you are throwing yours out and I just this week put all of mine into one binder. I decided to keep them together so that I have them as .. what I told my husband .. my badge of honour. ;) I am keeping them as a reminder of how not to do things, too, embarrassing as that is.

    Because of how much writing you have done maybe you have more of those letters than I have since I was not brave enough to send out my writings very many times. I have only rejection letters, thus far, which was always discouraging to me. Now I am changing that attitude and will use the negatives as stepping stones to achievement – or that is the plan! :)

    I expect you have a lot of great letters, too. Are you keeping a binder of those? Also, have you ever received fan mail from people having read your stories?

    Reply
    • Unless you have more than two file folders, Lynn I bet I do have more rejection letters than you. Have you read how many rejection letters very famous authors have received over the years? And I bet you’d be surprised to learn about some best sellers that were rejected countless times.

      Rejection letters are a step forward. You’re moving toward your goal, sending things out. You’ll get there! Be patient and give thanks for those rejections. It means you’re actively moving forward.

      Yes, I will hang onto my acceptance letters, although nowadays most of them are by email.

      Fan mail?I’ve had plenty of people email to say they enjoyed my novel as to my other work not a lot of people have read my short stories. It always nice to hear that someone read your words and found some value in them.

      Reply
  2. Well done, Laura. I’ve had a lot of rejection in the past. The best advice I ever received from a very close person in my life was to “pick myself up, brush myself off and keep moving forward.”
    I’ve not had any rejections in my writing yet because I am just starting out. But I will always remember this inspirational post while I forge ahead.

    Reply
    • Hi Thomas,

      Thanks for stopping by. I guess the person who told you to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and keep moving forward must have known something because here you are and I bet much wiser than before.

      Congratulations for starting. You’re on your way. Savour each and every one of those rejection letters because that just means your one step closer to publication.. Best of luck!

      Reply
  3. It’s hard for some people to deal with the rejection of their work. So much of the creative process is deeply personal and having it turned down seems like a slap in the face — it infers someone thinks their “baby is ugly.” It helps to realize that a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean the agent, editor or publisher doesn’t like the writing but more likely it just isn’t a story that excites his or her passion enough to want to promote it.

    I also believe rejections not only serve to show that the writer is moving forward in the process, but also help to thicken the writer’s skin a little and build patience. I know they can be a source of discouragement, too, but ultimately they will weed out the writers who can’t handle the stress, the criticism, the interminable waiting. Success depends on a combination of talent, luck and timing and only those who are determined to keep trying will still be in the running when everything comes together. At least that’s my opinion, for what it’s worth. ;)

    Reply
    • In the beginning rejection is tough because as new writers we don’t understand the what decisions go into having a piece accepted and obviously every good piece of work won’t be accepted as room is limited. Luckily, if you’ve written something that stands out, an editor will send you some encouragement. I also think you have to really believe in yourself as a writer.

      You’re right, Carol, developing a thicker skin is certainly a must for any writer and as you say it does weed out those who are serious about their craft and those who can’t handle the stress that goes along with becoming a published writer.

      Reply
  4. newtowritinggirl

     /  January 6, 2010

    Hi Laura,

    This is a great post that I think I’m going to book mark and come back to when I start getting rejection letters. One thing that scares me senseless at the moment is receiving them. I’ve always been bad at getting rejected and although I know each rejection is one step closer to an acceptance, I think I’m going to find it hard.

    I think one of the reasons I’m struggling to do this assignment for my course is that if it’s good enough, my tutor will encourage me to send it out. Eek. The thought terrifies me. Hopefully, new year, new decade I can push myself through. I want to be a successful writer, not one that is weeded out as Carol says. It’s just going to be hard getting the first few!

    NTWG.

    Reply
    • It took me a long time to become comfortable with receiving those rejection letters. But now if they come I don’t blink an eye. To be honest they do sting in the beginning. Why wouldn’t they? Your skin is never thick enough in the beginning. But once you have a few acceptances under your belt rejection will feel different.

      If you don’t want to be one of those ones who are “weeded” out then don’t be. The choice is yours. I pushed through, stuck with it even those days when I quit. (Yes, I’d tell myself I’m quitting but it would only last a day or so and then I’d have to turn back to paper..I couldn’t stop myself.)

      I’m betting you’ll stay in the game, at least until your dream is realized. and then I’ll dare you to quit!!

      Reply
  5. Not only might we be bored if we succeeded at everything – we might not enjoy life as much. I despaired over rejection quite a bit in the fall (not so much with writing, as I haven’t submitted much yet – more like with lots of other areas of life that just kinda got rejected all at once). It got me thinking about how different my life would be if I hadn’t been broken up with by that guy I liked, or if I’d gotten the out-of-state jobs I applied for, or if I’d been promoted to the position I was told I had earned (right before they told me, ‘Oh, never mind, she’s getting the job, not you.’), or if my high school experience had been different, or…or…or…

    Looking back, those things I thought I wanted, they weren’t right for me. God has closed and opened doors as He’s seen fit, and it’s only when I look back that I start to understand why. And I am SO GLAD I didn’t end up with that boyfriend, that job, that position. I prefer what I have.

    That said, I don’t think rejection feels any better when you experience it.

    (You got me thinking, haha. Thanks!)

    Reply
    • It helps me immensely to keep reminding myself that whatever is happening there is definitely a reason for it. I don’t believe for a moment that life is simply a series of random events. Talk about leaving things to chance.

      They say hindsight is a wonderful thing and it is. Nope, you’re right Kayla at the time rejection sometimes does feel pretty rotten but perhaps knowing that there is a reason for it in some way softens the blow..Or at least keeps you plugging away.

      Glad I made you think!

      Reply
  6. I treasure my rejections. I’ve learned a little something from each one of them. I dont’ think I could ever throw them away.

    Reply
    • That’s exactly how I felt for a long time, Susan, but this year seems right. I’ve looked at those bulging folders for too long. I’m ready to start eliminating the clutter in my life.

      Reply
  7. Yes, the rejections just make the acceptance all the more sweeter.

    Reply
  8. chezjlb

     /  January 14, 2010

    One published writer told me that a rejected author is a published author. You can’t give up.

    Reply

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