"I'm just going to write because I can't help it."- Charlotte Brontë

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Rah-Rah Rejections

When one can't talk about sales (because there aren't any), there's always that faithful fallback of going on about one's rejections. I know - boring, boring, boring, - but, alas, they are a regular feature in a writerly life and must be dealt with on an ongoing basis, usually when you've had a crap day and are least up for it.

And I'm only bringing them up again because I've had a few this week that were wonderfully kind and supportive knockbacks of the 'loved your work but...' kind , which include breakdowns of what was so great about the story that wasn't purchased *sigh*, and of the 'if I'd had more room in this antho you'd have definitely been included' types, along with counsel to send one piece to other publications that might be more up for its 'structural challenge', and exhortations to 'keep writing!' and 'send more!'  Lovely stuff.

In each case, I've wanted to email back to the editor just how much I appreciate their personal comments and encouragement, but of course, that's deemed unprofessional. Yet such kindness from a stranger can make a real difference, and help you to decide whether to give up on a particular story and bin it or send it out again, and possibly whether or not you give up the whole ridiculous writing gig and devote your life to helping war orphans or making real money.

I've been thinking a lot about the ability to weather the ups and downs of rejections lately because of this great post Steve Cameron put on his blog last week about a writer who stopped subbing stories back in 1991 because he didn't think he was getting anywhere, when in fact, behind the scenes, editors and agents had noticed his work and earmarked him for great things. I can't even begin to imagine how that writer felt when he discovered the truth. Anyway, Steve concludes that nicer, more constructive rejections might have made a difference, and I heartily agree. In lieu of a sale, a pat on the head is the next best thing. If that makes me sound pathetic, then so be it - I'll take what crumbs I can get.

Editors are busy people, I get that, which makes it all the more wondeful when they do take the time to treat you like a real person. As said, there are times when I wish that I could respond when editors take the time to say good things and let me know whether I'm in with a chance, and tell them THANK YOU!    


Steve Cameron said...

It can be difficult.

How close are we? We just have to keep pushing on.


Anonymous said...


(see Steve's blog)


parlance said...

I'll go across and read Steve's blog.

I'm glad you posted this, because I'm pretty new at submitting stories (been writing for ages, but not taking the brave step of sending out) and I got one of those nice rejections a few months ago. It was super exciting and I had to stop myself sending off a thank-you for the nice comments, because it seemed logical that it would be unprofessional.

So now I know I made the right decision. Thanks for the post.

Gitte Christensen said...

Difficult, but exciting, Steve. As they always say, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Let's just play it out and see where it gets us.

Crumbs are indeed yummy, Thoraiya, especially with extra tasty grated cheese and lots of butter on top of cauliflower au gratin. And thank you for your suportive words over at Steve's place.

Good luck with the submitting, parlance, and welcome to the thrilling ups and downs of a writerly life (see above: difficult, but exciting). As for the 'never ever respond to a rejection' rule - you're welcome. But remember - just as this information was whispered to me long ago by someone more experienced, make sure that you too pass it on one day, Padawan. That way, the editors of the world can be spared the many extra emails filling their already full inboxes that might make them think twice about tossing kind words our way.

Anonymous said...

Let me also mention: some of my best acceptances? NO CRUMBS beforehand. Others: seven or eight lots of crumbs before acceptance. Still others: enough crumbs for me to find my way through the dark forest, but no acceptances yet. So crumbs are delicious but they don't mean anything :(

Oh, and I forgot this link:


...because it is wise :)


Gitte Christensen said...

Thank you for the link, Thoraiya - a useful mantra to bear in mind, though possibly not so much for guys... :)

And crumbs remain a mystery. I have a log book to keep track of what happens to each story, and some of then get but a single entry before I slap a gold star of acceptance on the page and jump around the room wooting with joy and wondering how I got it so right so quickly, while others go out time after time before they earn a sparkly sticker. Then there are those laggers that run out of space and I have to decide whether or not to keep the faith and allocate a whole new page for possibly noting many more rejections...

I usually do, of course, because I love 'em. If I didn't, how could I in my right mind expect others to love 'em too?