Make rejection, your friend?
Who said that?
I must have been joking, right?
Let me get this straight: Rejection, your friend?
Okay I said that already, but it’s true or can be.
That’s right; rejection can be your friend.
Okay, so not all rejection is friendly. If you’ve submitted any amount over the years you’ve pretty much discovered this. It doesn’t show up at the door with a bouquet of roses or even a friendly apologetic smile. It doesn’t offer you a tissue to wipe your eyes or a friendly shoulder to cry on. It doesn’t pat you on the back and tell you to keep going. Some rejection is miserable and cold, even frightening to some degree. It hides in the shadows and jumps out at you and shouts, Boo—along with come other choice words I might add.
You know what I mean, don’t you?
Sometimes we’re in denial. We simply can’t believe our eyes. What, my story? You don’t want to publish MY story? How can that be?
How was my beautiful story, my baby, that brilliant idea I followed from conception to birth, rejected? Perhaps there’s another note inside that envelope because surely the “your work” described in the rejection letter was not the same short story you titled, “The Red Geranium” before you sent it off “Your work,” in fact, could be anyone’s story. Right? Mistakes happen, right? And surely “your work” could be referring to anyone’s work, unless you actually titled the piece, “Your Work,” which I’m betting you didn’t. Must be some mistake, you say again. This time doubt is settling. You take another look inside the envelope, closer this time. You give it a shake. Maybe you missed something, another note, perhaps.
The very first rejection letter I received was a form letter addressed as such: Dear___________.
Over the years that blank space has been filled in with “Ms Best” “Laura” “Laurie” “author” and in some case, just left blank.
Let me say though, I do understand the need for form letters. With all the submissions out there it would be impossible to respond personally to each and every one. I get that. You should too. Don’t necessarily take it personally.
But then some editor takes a moment to scribble a note of encouragement at the bottom. “Yippee!” you hear yourself shouting. “I don’t totally suck at this,” and maybe, just maybe, you don’t.
And then, if that isn’t enough, one day you receive a letter with your first name on it. Yes, a letter or email, not just a scribbled sentence. At first glance you can see that some thought was put into it. You’re nervous, but brave enough to continue. No one has to tell you. Your heart makes a little skip. You’ve just received a good rejection letter.
Break open the Champagne!
Any writer will tell you that a good solid rejection letter from an editor is worth its weight in gold. And why shouldn’t it be. They have that objective eye. They are someone who is not emotionally invested in the story, someone who knows what they’re doing, and what you should be doing. They don’t know you personally and have no reason to send false praise. They are busy and don’t have time for such nonsense.
So what’s a good rejection?
If you’ve ever received one you know what I mean. A good solid rejection letter doesn’t send the author off to the corner licking her/his wounds, feeling as though their writing isn’t worth the ink to print it out. A good solid rejection points out the strengths and weaknesses in your manuscript, sandwiching in layers, making it look good enough to eat. Yes, there will be layers.
Most of all, a good rejection, sends you off eager to start revisions because you know you’ve got something good going. It just needs a little more fleshing out. A good rejection will make suggestions of how the story can be improved. A good rejection lets you know you are a person who counts, that your writing matters, and that there’s someone out there who gives a damn. Of yes, a good rejection will/can do all that. It can even make you smile with gratitude. I can be your friend.
We never know who we will meet on our journey. There will be those who will discourage us, even knock us to the ground if we let them, but there will also be those who will lift us up, help us out, and make our travelling time most enjoyable.
Have you ever received a good rejection, one that had you saying, “Thank you” rather than sending you into the pit of despair?