How Do I Cope With Rejection?

by Myra Nour

A common remark to this question, is, develop a tough skin. Well, better said than done! You do have to TRY not to take it personally, which sounds contradictory because this story is your “baby”. But, remember many magazines & book publishers receive hundreds…thousands of submissions. You will find some editors who may like something about your work & others who clearly don’t like it. Numbers, in a way, is the name of the game. You have to keep sending that story out until you run across an editor who just can’t live without your eloquent words! We’re all different and like different things, so where one editor may hate it, the next may love it.

I read a good suggestion recently: as soon as you receive a “reject” on a story, send it out immediately to another publisher. Don’t let it sit there – staring you in the face and making you more depressed – give it a new chance for life!

I have found there seems to be three types of publishers: first & worst, are the ones who send a terse post card with something like “not for us”; then, there are the ones who send a form letter, usually mentioning the amount of submissions as to why they can’t answer personally; and last and best, are the handwritten notes, usually with encouragement such as “interesting idea”, “you have some good writing skills”, etc. But, they can’t accept it because they don’t print your kind of story (do your research 1st), they recently bought a similar story, or doesn’t fit the format of their magazine, and so on.

I recently got a rejection from ImaJinn book publishers, stating “we liked your idea and characters, but we recently bought two similar story lines. Being a small publisher, it would take 3 years before we could publish your work, and that would be unfair to you.” Now, that was a nice rejection…although, if I wanted to wait 3 years, I guess they might accept it!

In life, negatives are hard to deal with, no matter where they come from…your boss yells at you, your husband fusses because you spent so much on a new dress, your son complains because you missed his baseball game (no matter that you had to work late!), your wife nags about the garbage even though you’ve had a very rough day at work. What helps us get through days like this? Positives! Warm fuzzies!!

In psychology, it’s called positive reinforcement; in layman terms, it can be something as simple as a compliment. So, in the writing life, we can have long stretches of receiving only “negatives” unless we set our life up differently to combat negatives with positives.

How do I do this? Surround yourself with support systems: join a critique group, you’ll receive positive comments on your work, as well as helpful criticism; take a writing or creative writing class, going over your work is an important part of this experience; get trusted friends and relatives to read your work and give you feedback; join a writer’s group; and being a member of a [writers’] group…[group name omitted]…can provide encouragement. And lastly, if you send out short stories while you’re working on the “big novel”, your chances of receiving an acceptance is increased. Getting any acceptance for publication is a big thrill and those little victories can sustain you during the long dry spells.

© 2000 by Myra Nour

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