I Put the “eck” in Rejected

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an overt post on writing and I just KNOW you’ve been dying for one (irony irony irony and scene). Regardless of how you feel about writers writing on writing about writing while writing, I can’t afford therapy, so I bought a domain name instead.

If you are a working writer, you’ve received a rejection letter. If you haven’t, then:

1. Screw you


2. You’re not really a working writer and you need to take a look at what you call your career.

Rejection is part of the process, and it’s something that want-to-be writers must deal with in order to progress. Sometimes, your writing sucks. Sometimes, the market is bad. Sometimes, nobody wants you. Okay. It happens. That’s life.

You pull up your big girl panties and get back to work.

This week, I got the rejection letter from my final requested manuscript. It was not a form rejection. It was kind and gentle, and I’ve developed a Twitter relationship with this agent and still enjoy talking with her, even if she didn’t want my stuff. This letter made me feel a great many emotions, but all these things were very loosely defined.

I’ve been waiting for this rejection for awhile. Now, let’s take a look at that. I’ve been waiting for this rejection. I wasn’t waiting for a “yes.” I’d been waiting for a “no.” When did that happen? When did I become so bitter and cynical that I’m expecting bad news over good?

But, regardless of expectation, every rejection letter brings up every other rejection and compresses them all into one big lump of ice right smack between the lungs. And that lump expands into a void of negativity. And the doubts rush in to fill the negative space.

I’m not talented. I can’t tell a story. I’m doing something wrong.

Your support structure tells you that’s wrong; you’re talented; you’ll get there. BUT THEY ARE LYING!!! (irony irony irony and scene)

The truth is, when you come to expect rejection, the old adage of doing the same thing and expecting a different result leads you to the crazy train.

Now, here’s the real point of this story.

The worst thing repeated rejection has done to me is trained me to not want things.

Wanting things is stupid and leads to pain, therefore the act of wanting is a gateway to pain and must be avoided at all costs.

I realized my numbness to desire when I suddenly wanted something. An opportunity presented itself and that cold lump was immediately incinerated in the burn of possibility. There was an all consuming rush, a caffeine high, an unfurling of imagination as a million different futures spread before me, none of them featuring a rejection. I had to tell someone. I had to tell everyone. I had to run home and write a blog post about it!Give It Colbert

So, there. The real travesty of rejection is not the “no.” It’s what it does to your head. It’s how it messes you up, pushes you down, leaves you on your belly so you forget what it’s like to sit, stand, walk, run.

But when something is worth wanting, maybe that’s the only thing that you need to get back on your feet.


9 Comments on “I Put the “eck” in Rejected”

  1. Hey – I know my attagirling won’t mean a whole lot, but two things:

    1. Atta frigging GIRL, dammit!

    and 2. A student and I were dissecting a YA book the other day, and we forged the following thesis: it’s good to have several important things going in your life, and only be failing horribly at one of them at any given time. Because then your brain has a place to retreat and say, “okay, that didn’t pan out, but I’m STILL AWESOME because…”

    So what I’m saying is, I really hope you’re loving it at Acme University out there, cuz you need, want, and deserve to have something to balance out the self-induced ego-botulism that is submission. I’d say I’m firm on that.

  2. When things suddenly started working right in my life, I would wait, cowering, for the other shoe to drop. In a similar epiphany, I realized that there is no other shoe. I call that the “One Legged God” theory.

    It takes a number of nos to get to a yes. Just imagine how huge your yes is going to be!

      • I have put off writing rejections until January, so I’m taking your blog post as a cautionary tale. The One-legged God theory has done me well for years now, though. 🙂

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