If Walls Could Talk: Moving Past the Sting of Rejection

M.H. Norris

No – Henry Burrows

A few weeks ago, I did an article on preparing a proposal. I had found myself in a position where I was doing several at the same time. Over the course of May, I had four proposals I submitted for different projects.

This past week, I heard back from the first of the group and found myself facing the never-pleasant rejection.

We all know that rejection is part of being a writer, that people say you have to be rejected x number of times before you get one acceptance, yes. We all know the line about how you learn from rejection, and it helps you grow as a writer.

But that doesn’t mean it makes you feel any better.

When the submission period for All The Petty Myths closed, I was faced with stories knowing that I was going to have to accept some and reject others. After reading through them, I knew what had made it and what hadn’t.

Once that decision was made, though, I was faced with the task of being the one to send the never-pleasant rejection letters.

If you’re a publisher or a curator who is faced with the task, let me give you a piece of advice. If you truly want to help someone grow from rejecting them, add a personal note to tell them why it doesn’t work.

Even if it’s something simple like “this just doesn’t fit with what we’re doing” that helps them know how to improve for next time.

That being said writers…

WHEN SUBMITTING TO AN ANTHOLOGY, READ THE GUIDELINES BEFORE YOU SUBMIT.

I’ll admit, rejection hurts. Part of me thinks I’m more annoyed that I got sent a form rejection letter than I am upset that I got rejected.

This was something I’d spent a lot of time working on and I was really excited about the concept.

What do you do when you get the dreaded rejection email?

1) Shake It Off

It’s going to sting for a minute. Don’t push it down, necessarily.  You worked hard on a pitch and no one likes rejection. I called James and had a little pity party. But then I turned around and wrote a post for the Nexus.

Sulk for a bit and then shake it off.

2) Keep Writing

Maybe this project didn’t work out. but the next one might. I’m going to take that rejected story and tweak it and use it elsewhere. Within an hour of the rejection, I already had a plan to use it elsewhere so my work isn’t wasted.

While I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t write every day, I don’t stop just because I got rejected. Maybe I take the day off but then I have to keep going.

Deadlines will do that to you.

3) Look at Other Options

You got rejected. There’s a chance it’s simply because your story wasn’t a fit for that project. But perhaps there’s another home for it somewhere. Keep it in your mind. There are Facebook groups with open calls for short stories and perhaps you’ll find a home for it elsewhere.

Here’s some of the groups I know of.

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Pulp Fiction: https://www.facebook.com/groups/440107622678110/

Horror: https://www.facebook.com/groups/384615034930975/

Crime, Thriller, Mystery: https://www.facebook.com/groups/493431704005291/

Romance: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OpenSubmissionCallsForRomanceWriters/

I could give you the platitudes of how rejection is just a part of the writing process. But I will also be the first one to tell you that those don’t really make you feel better.

Don’t let it get you down, though. 

When the time is right, you’ll get accepted somewhere. And those letters, and the experience that follows makes up for that rejection letter.

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