by Patricia Bradley
I met a writer once who kept every rejection letter she ever received. Over 10,000 letters. I was thinking about her the other day, and not just her, but all the writers out there who keep writing through rejections. I was one of those writers. I never received 10,000 rejections, mostly because I didn’t send my manuscripts out that many times.
If you are breathing…or writing (they’re the same thing, right?), you’ve experienced rejection at some point in your life, unless you’re like me and experienced it at multiple points in your life. And if you’re a published author, you’ve received a bad review. Or two. So, what do you do when that happens? How do you keep on writing?
I love the quote from Theodore Roosevelt in the meme. The person in the arena. You. From experience, I know rejection paralyzes a writer. How long depends on the writer. So, again, how do you pick yourself up and stare at that blank page after rejection? Like writing, there’s no right or wrong answer–what works for one writer, doesn’t work for another. Here are a few rejections I’ve received, some in the past, some lately:
• not finaling in a contest
• receiving a rejection letter from an editor or an agent
• receiving a harsh critique from a craft partner
• receiving a one-star review on Amazon or B&N
First, I allow myself to feel bad (actually wallow in my pity) for a day…sometimes two days if I really thought I’d get an acceptance. I think it’s important to allow yourself to feel disappointment about a rejection. If you try to deny you’re disappointed, I personally think it takes longer to get past it.
Once the day (or two) passes, I look for the silver lining in the rejection. And there usually is one. I always entered contests that gave good feedback. I looked at what the judges said and evaluated their comments. Some I didn’t agree with…at first, but as I looked at my story, I realized their points had validity. The same thing with a rejection from an editor or agent. If the reason is stated for not saying yes, look at what is said. See if their suggestions work for your story–only you know if it will.
Not everyone will like what you write or how you write. If you understand that from the get-go, it will make rejection much easier. And always remember–the story is yours. You can write it however you want.
The important thing is to get back in front of the computer and start writing again. Be that person in the arena. Channel that pain into your heroine. Open that vein and bleed all over your paper.
Oh, and that writer who collected all those rejections? She kept writing, eventually landing an agent who sent her manuscripts out — six by now. One day the agent called and asked if she was sitting down. Had she sold a book? She asked the agent and the agent replied no, and her heart dropped. She hadn’t sold a book, she’d sold four! Read more about Christie Craig here.
So, if when you get a rejection, accept it, try to learn from it, and then get back to what you were created to do–go write!
Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi and loves to write suspense with a twist of romance. Her books include the Logan Point series and two Harlequin Heartwarming romances. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens. The fourth book in the Logan Point Series, Silence in the Dark, releases April 26, 2016
Great encouragement, Pat!