When you get a rejection from an agent or editor, you should:
- Grumble loudly and stomp around the house
- Eat ice cream
- Announce to the world that you are never ever writing a single word again
- No, seriously, take a breath, it’s OK
(Please guess 4.)
Hey, 1. and 2. are fine. I’ve done both, sometimes at the same time. But the thing about rejections is, they really aren’t personal. They don’t mean you’re a bad writer. They do mean you should keep trying.
I deal with rejections at the day job as well as with my fiction. Not every article pitch gets accepted, even from editors who know and like my work. Maybe they just ran a similar article, or maybe the topic doesn’t wow them. It’s not personal, so I shrug and move on to the next thing.
But for a while, I had a harder time doing that with my fiction. Those stories feel like pieces of me in a way that something I write for a magazine or other publication doesn’t. So I stomped around the house, got epically frustrated, silently begged friends and family not to ask how my writing was going. And ate ice cream.
I finally had to ask myself why I was doing this. Was it helping me improve my writing or my chances? And how could I teach my kids about persevering and working to achieve their goals, if I weren’t willing to do the same?
So I changed my reaction. I quit taking it personally.
This week I got a rejection on a short story I’ve been sending around. I read the email, shrugged, and moved on with my day.
It’ll find a home somewhere, or it won’t. The point is to keep trying.