I get up an hour earlier than I need to get ready for work every morning to do internet searches. I find different sites that are looking for submissions, contributors, or various writing competitions. I’ll make note of deadlines, submission guidelines and where I need to send my writing samples. I’ve been doing this for a couple of months now and I’m getting pretty good at finding places looking for new talent.
But today, I was checking my email and there was a rejection letter for one of the competitions I had entered. I’ve gotten a lot of rejection letters at this point. And while any rejection stings, I have found that the more often you are rejected, the more you realize it is not personal. It takes a bit of the edge off to know that it is not a rejection of me, just something I wrote. It’s part of the job, I think. Sometimes things are just not a good fit and that is OK. Not everyone is going to like everything I write, and that is something I have to accept.
If rejection got to me, I’d never submit anything and nothing I wrote would ever see the light of day. Instead, I tell myself that old writer’s mantra: one more no is that much closer to a yes. I will just keep sending out my stuff and putting my name out there. On an average week, I might send out four pieces – that means I end out about 16 pieces a month. Of those 16, I’d say two or three a month land in publications or online and the rest are some version of the phrase, “Thanks but no thanks.”
This particular rejection was rough because it had been a personal topic and I’d spend a long time making sure I had everything exactly the way I wanted it. I thought it met their criteria perfectly and was looking forward to hearing what they thought. Unfortunately what I received was just a standard rejection form letter. I don’t like those. I prefer to be rejected by a real person who gives me some insight into the thought process behind the rejection. Sometimes they will offer some constructive criticism so that I can take something positive away from the experience, and sometimes I’ll receive a little better insight into exactly what they’re looking for. But when it’s just a quick message that says, “Sorry, not at this time,” there isn’t a whole lot that can be done. I don’t know if they liked the piece and there were other, better submissions, if it really just wasn’t a good time and I should try again at a later date, or if they hated it.
Most authors spend years getting rejected before they find the right agent or the right publishing house. Things take time, and who knows will happen. You just have to keep putting your work out there. Anything can be a learning experience. It is my job as a writer to take experiences like that and use those to fuel my writing and turn them into something that people will want to read or learn something from.