I’m cringing as I begin to type this, but it’s been on my mind, so screw it.
Let me preface – I’m not the biggest fan of writing advice or anecdotes. Maybe I’m a natural cynic or just an asshole (my money’s on the latter) but the idea that there’s a one-size-fits-all method to writing irks me. Not everything works the same for any of us aside from the fundamentals—which even then are constantly challenged by poets or other literary ninjas (see Mark Z. Danielewsky).
So anyway, what the hell is my point? Oh yeah, ON REJECTION.
Awful word. You can see the stink lines coming off of it a mile away.
Still, as writers that’s our business: rejection.
We write and get rejected by editors, publishers, readers, and other writers. That’s the constant. That’s what makes acceptance a narcotic—it’s scarcity.
It’s why so many gifted writers can disappear before they make their presence known; either scared off or embittered to the point they quit. And who can blame them? Rejection isn’t easy to handle and hell, the easiest way to stop it is to no longer invite it over for some Netflix and chill (I do that right?).
So why continue?
That’s not what this rant is about. Nope, what this rant is about is making that rejection work for you, because it can and it WILL.
Nobody rejects a piece out of spite (for the most part). The business of writing is only personal when we’re pouring it all out on the page, after that, it’s all business. Does the person reading your piece feel that it’s marketable, worth taking a risk on, TRANSCENDENT OF THE GENRE? Maybe, often no, nearly never yes. Through it all, though, if you’re waiting on a professional to provide that feedback and it’s pear-shaped, there’s no hard feelings. That means, you don’t take it as rejection, you take it as an opportunity (if you can glean the context from it, if not, toss that shit in the fire where it belongs).
Rejection means something didn’t quite click. While yes, all it takes is a single acceptance, multiple rejections should also be a sign that we need to further delve into the piece or pieces in question. Not that we’re doing anything wrong, but maybe there’s a different way to accomplish what we want. I’ve found that thinking that way has not only softened the blow from rejections, but has helped my work. Taking the time to really examine what it is about my writing, themes, narratives, characters, that could turn someone off makes me a little more thoughtful. Will I compromise my WHOLE vision? Fuck no, but I can certainly finesse pieces that will help my reader compromise their stance.
So make of this what you will. If you’re feeling the sting of rejection, rethink how you internalize that feedback and try a different approach. Do it your way, not mine – or do it my way. Whatever works, man.
I’m just trying to write.