Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dealing With Rejection

I was recently asked how I deal with rejection. It's an important enough topic to writers--whether aspiring or multi-published--that I thought I'd answer here.

If you're a writer, rejection is part of the job--it happens to all writers, no matter how talented. When--not if, but when--it happens, there are several ways to react. Some writers I know get down for a day or two, then forget about it. Others brush off a rejection as nothing. Still others will mull it over for weeks at a time, picking apart each word from the editor or agent who rejected the project, trying to figure out what went wrong. Some writers head straight for the pint of Ben & Jerry's.

I don't fall into any of these camps.

I admit, I've gone for ice cream after a rejection letter appeared in my in-box, but I will use any excuse for ice cream (selling a book, seeing the cover for the first time, getting good news or bad from an editor, the Red Sox winning a big game, you name it.) When I get a rejection letter, rather than bemoan it, I view it as one person's opinion that a particular project isn't right for the market at this time. When viewed that way, it doesn't bother me. It's nothing more than a simple business decision. I haven't been fired; I've essentially been told to try to come up with something more marketable. So in the end, my internal response to rejection is, "Okay. Thanks for the analysis."

When I first started writing, it was tough to do that. No writer wants to think that the time and energy consumed by that rejected project was wasted. But over the years, I've learned that markets change, editors change, and readers' tastes change. As long as I keep working hard to become a better writer, improving my craft with each project, by the time the market is ready for that particular idea, I can resubmit, possibly in an improved version. Even if it doesn't sell, I can always pull a character, a story thread, or some other component of that project and use it in the future. In the meantime, I don't stand still. I keep writing. By the time I receive a rejection, chances are that I have another project--maybe even two or three--in the works, and a new focus for my energy.


Lexi said...

Thanks a lot for writing this! I want to be a writer, and I'm a big perfectionist, so it's difficult for me when people don't love my writing. I have to remember to keep writing, editing, and have it read again!

Is it possible to follow your blog? If so, it would be really helpful if you let me know how. Thanks!

Have a good day!

Niki Burnham said...

Here's the thing: You can write the greatest story EVER, and there will be people who don't like it. Think of a few of your favorite books. Chances are, some of your friends didn't like them. Tastes vary, from person to person and day to day.

And YES, you can follow this blog! Scroll down and look at the bottom of the right-hand column. You'll see a link that says, "Subscribe to posts. (Atom)" That should give you a way to do it. Thanks for asking.

Ms. Yingling said...

Congratulations are your newish blog! You'll be glad to know that Royally Jacked was one of my first recommendations of the school year!