Writers are told to get used to it. We’re told it goes with the territory. We’re told not to take it personally. We’re told it’s no big deal. All this advice sounds good, but it sure doesn’t take the sting out of rejection.
Thesaurus.com lists the following synonyms : refusal, brush-off, elimination, exclusion, kick in the teeth, no dice, no way, slap in the face. Wow! So much for not taking rejection personally! The thing is, writing is VERY personal, and rejection is hard.
Yesterday, I received an email informing me that my poem was rejected. I had worked long and hard on that poem. Researching the topic, writing and rewriting until it finally felt right, I finally sent it off knowing rejection was possible, even probable. It wasn't the first time I’ve received a rejection so why did it hurt so much when that email came?
I think it's because no reason was given by the editor. I rarely submit anything for publication so my experience is limited. However, in the past, when I 'd send a submission snail mail, I'd send a reply post card with a checklist so the editor could simply choose a reason. The editors who reply via email, also usually state a reason. For example, I recently sent 3 poems to a large children's magazine. One poem was accepted, the editor wrote that other two "don't fit our upcoming themes." In that case, I knew where I went wrong.
But with this one, I have no idea why it was rejected. Did the entire poem stink? Was there a line that didn’t work? Was the topic all wrong? The more I thought about it, the more embarrassed I was for submitting the poem, and then negative self-talk too over.
Now, I know editors are busy. But when an editor is also a writer, they know the questions and self-doubt a rejection brings. If the editor had taken the time to include a brief but specific reason for the rejection (meter is off, too abstract, imperfect rhyme, etc.), I would have something to work with. I would’ve grown as a writer instead of wondering if the poem was a total failure.
A teacher would never put an “F” on a piece of student writing without a comment explaining why. Writers need to know what went wrong. Editors are, in many ways, our teachers. We listen to them and learn from them. The point of all this is not to bash editors. No way! They work hard and do an important job. We need them. I just think that it would make us better writers if we knew why when our work rejected.
It's almost 3 AM, and I've been up all night. I hope this doesn't come off sounding bitter. I'm just trying to figure out if I have anything to offer the world as a writer.
This post proves you have much to offer the world as a writer. Rejection is a hard part of living the life of a writer. Your post captures this and gives hope, knowing you will continue to write word by word, even on the hard days.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Ruth. I've spent years trying to figure out where I fit/ if I fit in the world of writing. I keep trying to find the form I have the skills to write well. I hope I get it right soon, I'm getting old! : )Delete
I agree with Ruth! Your writing style is sound. You are eloquent. Rejection at any time (in life, not just writing) is difficult to accept. But the rejection doesn't mean you can't move on. Someone will see what great things you have to offer. Never give up!ReplyDelete
Mrs. C.- you are so sweet. Thank you. I have to keep trying.Delete
Rejection is such a big part of a writer's life. It stinks. It is something that I've never been able to get used to. I doubt I ever will.ReplyDelete
Keep believing in yourself. Keep submitting. You will get your big break!
I sure hope you're right. I haven't submitted much in a long while. I guess the fear of rejection keeps me locked in and stuck. : (Delete
My suggestion is to not take it personally.ReplyDelete
I use to have to choose models for fashion shoots. Some times we must needed a brunette and not a blond.
An editor maybe just needed a blond that time, when your writing was a beautiful and lovely brunette.
This slice of life, was raw and powerful and full of emotion and feeling.
Write because you want to.
Write because something inside of you wants to speak.
Write because it gives you pleasure.
I will be looking for your post tomorrow :)
Pamela-thank you for your very wise advice!Delete
One quote that has always stuck with me is that failure is the first step to success. You are a writer. I think that this means, that other and better doors will open for you later on. Keep writing and submitting your poems~! :)ReplyDelete
Jee-That's a great quote. I sure hope I'm a writer. It's been a lifelong dream. I am just full of self-doubt at the moment. Thanks for your kind comments. : )Delete
The sting of rejection is always unpleasant. And even more so, as you said, when you don't know the reason you or your work is being rejected. You didn't sound like you were bitter. I hope you continue to submit your poems.ReplyDelete
Koreen- thank you. I always worry about tone. It's sometimes hard to know how readers interpret things. I appreciate you letting me know that I didn't come across in a negative way.Delete