Friday 5 February 2010

Coping with Rejection

Coping with Rejection
I once read of a mid-list writer who seemed to be living the life that many of us dream of. She writes in the mornings then does marketing in the afternoons. This includes giving talks to groups. She also has a family life and a dog she walks to give her thinking time - and she still gets rejections. She calls them rewrites. A healthy attitude, I think.
Rejections cause huge emotional upheavals no matter how used you are to them. I don’t just mean the initial rejection. There’s also the editing process and then the reviews afterwards. At that point, you can’t rewrite. You can learn lessons for next time, though. And don’t we learn all the time? In my case to the extent that I can hardly look at work once it’s published. My own words can make me cringe because I’m so much a better writer now than I was when I last tinkered with the piece.
I’m absolutely furious about a recent rejection – so furious that I’ve almost got the voodoo doll and the pins out. In fact it isn’t even a rejection – the editor has not had the courtesy to let me know. My own publishing company does not behave that way. We accept unsolicited and we look at every single one. We let every single author know.
Yet even this time there is a quite creative solution: I’ve submitted it elsewhere. Immediately. I’ll actually know later today whether that submission has been accepted or not. If it is, I’ll market it furiously. The anger can be useful. It sharpens the determination.
What would I advise?
Don’t be too reasonable about the anger. It’s useful energy. But try and get some distance from your text before you actually react. Revisit the text anyway – even if you’ve not had constructive criticism. Send it out again. Keep your ear to the ground. Look for the opportunities. Spend a long time on your own craft. But above all, remember the joy.

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