Rejection is part of every writer’s life – hell, it’s part of everyone’s life. Whether it’s a job you desperately wanted, a lover who turns away or a friend who shuts you out, rejection is part of the human experience. Not a terribly nice part, but somehow necessary, I suppose, for building character and resilience and appreciation when all is well. For me, rejection has been a spur. A nasty, painful spur, but one that is forcing me to be a better writer. To consider each word I put to page, to see if there is a better way, a different way, a more intelligent way I can communicate the story I’m trying to tell.
When it comes to writing I don’t think there are many who have never had their work knocked back at least once and that includes several very well known best sellers. Any sort of creative endeavour is subjective by its very nature. But what to do with those letters, those polite, encouraging yet ultimately disheartening letters with their thirty three ways of saying ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ You could put them on a spike (a la Stephen King), or perhaps use them to paper your office (not there yet, but who knows). I’ve even heard rejection letters being spoken of as some sort of badge of honour, as though being told you are not good enough, not yet, is part of the process of becoming a ‘real’ writer, rather than simply the act of writing itself. I have chosen simply to file them away and, for those who send me a personalised email, to write back and thank them for their time. There is nothing to be lost in being polite.
As mentioned in a previous post, I sent my book out last year to a handful of agents and was resoundingly knocked back. So I took a step away from the work, mostly because I had to, came back to it with some substantial rewrites and now I feel I have a much better product. So these new rejections, though there have only been a couple so far, hurt a little more. My daughter watches a show, some sort of teen fluff, and one of the plots involved a guy ‘buying’ three of his female classmates at a fundraising auction (don’t ask), then ordering them to follow him around, cheerleading all his accomplishments. Well, of course it backfired, with the girls humiliating him at every turn, including when he got turned down for a date. ‘Rejected, rejected, R-E-J-E-C-T-E-D, you just got rejected!’
So even though my beta readers all love the book, even though other writers have commended it, I can’t stop that silly song running through my head when another letter or email comes through. Fingers crossed I get a different response soon, one that has me singing a happy song.