I got a story turned down a few days ago. Instead of feeling the normal sting of rejection, I felt a profound relief. Truth is, it wasn’t a story I was proud of. I was, and am, very proud of the writing, of the setting and the characters. But there was always something about the story itself that never quite jelled. There were no comments attached to the rejection email, but who cares? I didn’t need them. I know in my heart that the story had a major weakness, which I could never quite pinpoint, but which was nevertheless unsettling. If I had been honest with myself from the get-go, I never would have tried to market the story. I’m grateful for all the fine editors out there who, intentionally or not, end up protecting me from myself.
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In my previous post I talked about an emotional lift I got from gaining a new follower for this blog. That was in response to being “stuck” due to the sense that I was not reaching a single reader. But I can also get “stuck” when I keep getting editorial rejections. In this case, one consolation is to know that we’re all in good company, that rejections are all part of the life of any artist. If you’re not involved in a group of other writers, you can share the sting, and gain some comfort, online. One of my favorite sites for doing this is Rejectomancy. The owner, Aeryn Rudel, not only shares his experiences with “rejection” but often has advice about how to use it to one’s advantage. One of my favorite posts from this site is Michael Bracken’s description of a rare form of rejection, “The Unacceptance Letter.”. Bracken calls these rejections “disheartening” and yet his professional response to them still shines through.
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