Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Art of Accepting Rejection

From Cheryl's Writing Crate

Whether you’ve been writing for a short period of time or have been published for many years, chances are you’ve faced some type of criticism for something you’ve written. I’ve been writing professionally for 12 years now, and I can still remember the very first time I received a rejection. Ugh! It was the third personal essay I had ever submitted. Because the first two had been published, I never dreamed I’d be faced with this hurtful type of criticism on my third try. (How naive of me!)

Worse, this particular essay was all about kindness. Though I thought I had presented my views on this topic with a very unique and fresh perspective, the editor scribbled a note on the back of it that said, “Even Pollyanna wouldn’t want to read this.”

Now that I’ve been writing for awhile, I know that rejection letters or negative feedback simply go with the territory. Thankfully, I no longer take it personally. I have tried (when I’m in a good mood that is!) to glean something constructive from them.

Overall, I’m very grateful that most of my work is praised as humorous, thoughtful, and creative as the columns and articles I write are generally not controversial, but more in the lines of entertaining or thought-provoking. But as a published author currently in the midst of writing a first novel, I know I need to be prepared for the rejection and disappointment that goes hand in hand with getting published.

Here are some helpful tidbits I’ve kept on file throughout the years for accepting rejection as gracefully as possible.
Turn rejection into a positive, no matter how small!

Don’t take it personally:  It’s important to remember that the critiques and rejections are of our work, not us, not our family or our pets, just something we wrote.

Persistence Pays Off: If you keep writing, you’ll keep getting better as long as you are open to improving your craft. Writers that persist and put themselves out there have a much better shot of getting published.
You’re Not Alone: J. K. Rowling was rejected the first time she sent out Harry Potter--and thirteen more times after that. Stephen King’s novel Carrie was turned down more than a dozen times before it was published and he shot up the bestseller lists. William Golding’s The Lord of The Flies was rejected more than twenty times before it was finally picked up. These are just three of thousands of examples of authors who never gave up.  I’d say we’re in good company!

Make it a Motivator: When I send a query to a magazine, I visualize receiving an acceptance e-mail or letter from the editor. I also realize that sometimes it’s a matter of odds before my idea is accepted, so each time I submit something I know I’m one step closer to either getting published or crafting an even better article or story.

How do you deal with rejection as a writer?  Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section.

1 comment:

  1. I have never submitted my work so have never faced a rejection letter. I post my pieces on facebook, which I generally set to "Friends Only." Naturally, the comments are universally kind.

    Rejections and unkindness are two reasons I have not stepped into blog-o-sphere. I have a thin skin.

    I cannot believe that the person who rejected your piece, on kindness no less, did it so rudely as the say that "No even Pollyanna would read this." Not necessary.

    Thinking about this event, I do believe that I could, after all, face rejection if it was handed out with a modicum of kindness. Not exactly damning with faint praise, but a real assessment issued with grace, leaving the recipient with some dignity.

    The great contemporary American writer James Lee Burke's book, "The Lost Get-Back Boogie," was rejected what he thinks is a records 111 times before being accepted by the Louisianan State University Press. His rule is never to let a rejected work stay in his home longer than 36 hours. He kept sending it out again and again until it found a home. He went on to write dozens of books, achieve high acclaim and awards, and has a steady following, myself included.