Okay, so I’ve written about rejection a lot of times. Like, a whole lotta times. But since the story I revised and returned to my wonderful editor is still deemed insufficiently engaging by her, I’m coping with rejection again. (Honestly, she gave me the option of cutting half its length, but I have officially washed my hands of the whole situation.) If I have to cope with it, I might as well post about it. Continue reading
The Rejection Letter that’s Good for You
Yesterday, I got a rejection letter.
Yes, it happens a lot.
I’ve argued in the past that rejection letters are good for you, and I’ve gotten better at taking them in stride, but this one went even further. Its timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
You see, last night was my monthly writers’ workshop. All morning, I’d been trying to decide on a piece to bring and share. When that rejection letter appeared in my inbox around noon, I decided it was a sign.
Not just a sign, but a Sign — “This is the piece you should bring to your writers’ workshop tonight.”
So, I did.
And it was magical.
Our group was smaller than usual, consisting of just three of us (usually, we’re four or five). But the two other ladies present gave me so much insight about what worked in my story and what did not, feedback that I might have been less open to, had I not just received the rejection letter. I spent a good chunk of this morning working on revisions, and plan to wrap them up tomorrow in between baking my challah and roasting my chicken.
I’m still hoping that the next time I hear from an editor, they send an acceptance letter. (To say that I pray for acceptance letters is no exaggeration.) But this experience is definitely going to help me embrace the next rejection letter.
Because another will surely come.
Throwing down the gauntlet: I challenge you to write something different!
So yesterday I read this post by the Rubber Ducky Copywriter. In it, she posts about her first rejection letter after going out on a limb and submitting a short story. Despite her success as a copywriter, fiction is a new endeavor for her, and rejection hurt.
First of all, I’d like to cheer her on. Despite the rejection letter (and my readers will know I’m no stranger to them), the Rubber Ducky Copywriter did something a lot of us writers don’t do: try something new.
A lot of us avoid writing new things, especially after we find success (especially financial) in a particular niche. I know that it took me a long time to start writing for adults after I’d succeeded with kids’ lit. Other changes were also scary, because they carry risk. What if you invest time and emotions and no one ever publishes it?
But the pay-off can be big.
For years, I focused on my fiction. When I ventured on occasion to write a personal essay, it would inevitably face a quick rejection. Out of frustration, I gave up writing personal essays for a long time.
But, when I came back to it, I did better. My years of practicing fiction helped me hone my storytelling abilities. The first personal essay I’ve had published shows this and found a much wider audience than my fiction thus far has.
So here’s my creative writing challenge:
Tragedy! My lonely old maid of a story has been rejected once again.
I’m sure I’ve blogged about rejection numerous times at this point, but since I continue to collect rejection letters, why not continue blogging about them?
Over the summer, I wrote a story that my husband adored. He likes almost all my stories, but this one he really, really liked. He particularly enjoyed the nasty anti-hero at the center of the story and the unhappy ending.
On the other hand, I didn’t like the way I’d originally executed my idea, so I set it aside for a couple months. Eventually, I brushed it off and polished it up a bit before sharing it with my writing group. They provided extensive feedback, and I acted on it, hoping that the new, much improved story would dazzle the editors. Continue reading
Denial is more than a river in Egypt
Sorry for the corny post title. I’m starting to evaluate why my novel manuscript was rejected in preparation for revising it. The truth is, parts of it are original and thought-provoking, but parts are outright terrible.
1) I need to spend more time developing my setting and characters. My beta readers told me my characters were appealing, but are they believable? I’m not so sure. And the setting could be more convincing. I’m going to do some mapping out of additional material to flesh things out, plus do a few strategic cuts (or changes) to make each more consistent with their inner logic.
2) It’s too short. Yes, I am a champion of short novels, but this novel is TOO short. I need at least another 12,000 words so the speed isn’t so breakneck. In retrospect, there are plenty of scenes alluded to in conversation or flashback that could be fleshed out so there is more showing and less tell.
3) Parts are too pedantic. I’ve been reading some books which take a similar approach to serious topics (see previous post here), and have recognized that I could write my little sci-fi fable with a little lighter hand.
4) The book doesn’t always convey the exact message I intended. I think I changed my outlook a few times in the process of writing, and it shows. I have to have more focus and consistency.
I’m not really ashamed that my book is less than perfect, but BOY I’m glad I didn’t follow the advice of people who told me to self-publish. At least there are fewer than 10 people who have read the whole thing thus far.