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Posts Tagged ‘rejection’

subjectivityA couple of years ago I entered a short story contest. There were three anonymous judges. Since they were anonymous, I have no idea whether they were editors, fellow writers, agents, writing teachers or other. Even though this was a no-fee contest, each entrant still got a summary of the scores. I did not win. But it was the scores that were illuminating. One judge loved the story and gave it the highest marks on all criteria. Another judge felt the opposite and gave it all low marks on each point. The third judge graded the score right down the middle, halfway between excellent and not worth the paper it was printed on.

I told this to a writer friend of mine and he had the perfect response. “It just goes to show how subjective anyone’s response is to any piece of writing.” It didn’t mean it was a bad story. If it appealed strongly to one person, it will appeal strongly to some other editor down the road. So, as I said in the last post Turnaround, the only appropriate response is to take another look to see if it can be improved, then find another market and send it off.

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turnaround2I got another story back a few days ago. No surprise. I had sent it to a top market where there’s a ton of competition from big name authors. Nevertheless it’s always worth a try. (Well, almost always.) Within days of the rejection, I had that story out to another publication. This is one case where I know the advice from successful writers is spot on, and I act on it as conscientiously as I can. Know the markets, keep your best work circulating and keep good records of where stories have been. It’s about increasing your chances of acceptance. It’s about keeping hope alive.

 

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gratitude (2)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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rejectedIn 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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