For all of us out there who are actually serious about our dream to become a writer, and even manage to muster up the courage to send out query letters and manuscripts to agents and publishers, rejections come swiftly, in mass, and are like a bucket of cold water to the face. Course we always hear those trying to be supportive that say: “Well, J.K. Rowling got rejected hundreds of times before Harry Potter succeeded!” or, “You have to get lots of rejections before you get the deal, you’re doing good!”
But it doesn’t really help, does it? Rejection is still rejection, no matter the reason. Whether its because our writing wasn’t fancy and nice enough or because someone else’s interpretation of the market says no, the stories telling of failure stick out in the mind more than success.
Because most people know of at least one of ‘those’ kinds of writers. The kind that haven’t really gotten any better since High School and are still trying to publish their one million page dream of another world, or those who are still tinkering on their manuscript fifty years down the road because they just never got the chance to publish. We’re told not to judge, but we also know that the reason success is so desirable is because it doesn’t happen to everyone. There’s a lot of ‘failures’ out there, just like us, who did everything they thought they could.
And in the end, stories are a piece of our souls, whether we want them to be or not. So getting rejected, no matter how logically we try to think of it, sometimes feel like WE are the one’s being rejected.
So how does one deal with rejections and still go forward as a writer?
Well, after much thinking and studying of other writer’s words on the subject, I’ve come with three pretty straight forward solutions.
1. Just don’t.
That’s right. Give up. Go in your corner, cry, post up your works on wattpad.com and pray that a miracle might occur while you’re not working, then go back to your day job like the zombie you think the world wants you to be.
2. Become an asshole.
Pardon my French, but this actually is an option that many of my writer friends take. They puff up their chests, say ‘screw you’ to the editors and agents (it’s their loss, after all, this is freaking Shakespeare they’ve rejected), and then get on all the blogs in the world to bellow their vehemence about the stupidity of ‘the Gatekeepers.’
What they do afterwards is besides the point. They’re already quite amazing as they are, after all, and they need to be ready to watch those dipweeds get it handed to them like all those other book aristocrats that rejected authors like James Patterson and Suzanne Collins.
3. Remind yourself why you write.
When you were a wee lad or lass, or however old you were, when you first picked up your pen to write a story, why did you do it? Did you do it to get praise? To get published? To become freaking loaded? If yes, I hope you didn’t stay that way, because we all know that art wasn’t made for that. And if you’re writing to become famous, if that’s why you really love to do it, then maybe it’s time for you to quit, because this road isn’t going to be as rewarding as you hoped it would be. If all you want is to be rich and a best-seller, then stop. It really isn’t worth it. You’re better off finding another way. Just quit.
But, if you are like I think you are, that isn’t why you’re here. You didn’t write that story just because you wanted to become published and hopefully famous (though we can all agree that’d be freaking sick). There was probably something inside of you, akin to a childish awe and fascination, that told you the story as you wrote it. You probably even had a blast writing it. Writing, like any other art, is an act of creation and its enthralling in itself.
If you’ve stayed up late into the night pounding out words because you are too eager to see what happens to sleep, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve lost yourself in a daydream of stories, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve laughed out loud at the keyboard because you have surprised yourself at something you yourself though you had control over, you know what I’m talking about.
So, really, why do you write? For reals.
And are you going to stop because someone didn’t think your work worth the chance? Are you really going to stop just because you’re afraid? Would your soul even let you?
Writing should scare you a little. You’re throwing yourself out there, you’re taking a chance, you’re speaking from your gut. But when you find the courage to go forward, you know for yourself that truly amazing things happen. It’s addicting, it’s like being an adrenaline junky, almost.
So, in conclusion…
You will get rejections. You’ll get lots of them, even if you are freaking Shakespeare. But, as Berryman said, “paper your walls with rejections slips.” It shows you had the courage to scare yourself a little. Keep going. Look into self-publishing, if you have to, but through it all always remember why you wrote down those first words in the first place, and more importantly, why you kept going.