Mon. April 9, 2018: Positive Response to Rejection #UpbeatAuthors

Today’s #UpbeatAuthors topic is “how to deal with rejection in a positive way.”

Since the group consists of authors, and many of our supporters are fellow authors and artists, we deal with rejection often.

It doesn’t do any good to hear “it’s not personal.” Our art requires us to reveal our depths, our souls, so yes, it is personal. I have a theory on the whole myth of “it’s not personal, it’s business” is one of the reasons we’re in such a big cultural and political mess — because we’ve allowed that myth to dehumanize us.

But that’s a post for another day.

When we send in a submission and it’s rejected, it hurts. In that moment, we are not able to see that it is a blessing in disguise. It feels awful.

We’re afraid to feel bad. The moment we feel bad or uncomfortable, we hide from it, we swallow something or smoke something or do whatever we can to avoid it.

What we need to do is to face it down.

After we have our pity party, of course. I have timed pity parties, where I’m allowed to wallow. For a manuscript rejection or something like that, I give myself fifteen minutes. That doesn’t mean I won’t have twinges beyond that, but I give myself a good fifteen minute wallow.

There are, of course, bigger life issues that get more time, such as the break-up of a long-term relationship, but a manuscript gets a 15-minute wallow.

Then, I go off and do something I enjoy, something that gives me pleasure. I do not believe in “guilty pleasures.” I do not feel guilt for what gives me pleasure.

The pleasure helps even out the pain of the rejection, and then I move on from there.

When it comes to agents, editors, and publishers, I remind myself and my colleagues that it’s not finding ANY match; it’s finding the RIGHT match. You want a team who is genuinely excited by and supportive of your work. You want a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work — yes, authors and artists DESERVE to earn a living, once they’ve mastered the craft and layered on the art and the energy.

It’s kind of like dating. You don’t expect to find your soul mate the first time out. Some do, and good for them. But usually, you have to date around a bit until you find the right match.

You learn something from every rejection, once you get past that icky feeling and the blow to your self-esteem. Are there specifics? In the case of a manuscript, did you get notes that make sense on the why?

I’ve had manuscripts rejected and received notes that, at first, I, in turn, rejected. But when I got back on an even keel again, and really looked at them, I realized they were correct. I might not have followed them exactly, but they helped me build a better book.

I’ve had manuscripts rejected because I refused to make certain changes. Often, I tried to make the changes, and I knew, deep down, that it hurt the book and took the life out of it. That’s okay. The editor was right to reject it, because it didn’t fit the company’s vision. I was right not to change the book in way that I knew did not serve the work. They will contract work better suited to them; I found a publisher who loved what I was trying to do and made it better.

The important thing to remember in rejection is not to lash out immediately. Be cordial. That’s different from polite. I always warn people that when I turn “cordial” they should back away slowly and then run. Because when I’m “cordial” I am angry.

You feel what you feel. Anger, hurt, confusion. Your feelings are legitimate. It’s how you CHOOSE to ACT on them that makes a difference.

Once you’ve gotten past the first anger and hurt, dissect the rejection. Is it a situation where you can learn something and improve on it? Be it a manuscript or a behavior pattern. Sometimes, people are right to call us out on bad behavior. If we have acted in a way that causes harm to someone else, they have the right to refuse to be harmed. They have the right to reject us.

We have the right to reject someone who causes us harm, too. I often joke about “excommunicating X from my universe” — only it’s not a joke. If someone is toxic, and refuses to respect my needs, my boundaries, they are gone. If someone undermines my writing, they are gone. Doesn’t matter if they’re related to me or not. They are gone.

If I refuse to respect someone else’s boundaries and needs, they have the right to remove me from their universe, too.

If someone has wronged you or you wronged someone else, genuinely listen to what caused the pain. If it’s something you are willing to change, to make right, do so. If you’re at an impasse, be honest, part with as much dignity and kindness as you can, and move on.

For example, if someone feels “wronged” or “pained” by the amount of time I spend on my writing, that is not someone who can stay closely involved in my life. My commitment to my work, the time and passion I spend on it, is not going to change. I make time for people in my life; but I will not give up writing because someone in my life needs proof they are more important than the writing. The people who are more important know it and don’t need the proof. Therefore, they don’t try to sabotage the writing.

One-to-one scorekeeping rarely ends well for anyone, but every relationship has to have a modicum of reciprocity.

Positive response to rejection? Be cordial; be kind if possible; remove yourself from the situation until you can have a clearer, more objective perspective.

It will improve the quality of your life on many levels.

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Published in: on April 9, 2018 at 5:50 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 9, 2018: Positive Response to Rejection #UpbeatAuthors  
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2009
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

Just a quick check-in this morning. I have to dash to CT briefly this morning, and then I’m returning to the page.

All I could think about yesterday was the steampunk. I couldn’t physically get back to the page after my errands for several reasons, the major one being most of my day was spent taking care of Elsa. But I worked out a bunch of plot points, tossed out some more possibilities that would make the piece too long, and I think I’ve got the whole piece worked out in my head. Now, to get it all on paper.

It took 40 minutes to get the ice off my car. Ah, for the day when I’ll have a garage! Trader Joe’s was a madhouse. I guess most people stayed in during the bad weather and had to stock up. Staples was a madhouse, but I got and set up my 2010 folders. Mrs. Green’s was better, and I grabbed the coffee I needed. Again, there’s this sense of desperate shopping. I don’t know why — the sales just aren’t that good this post-holiday season, and I’m not going to shop just to shop. The stores that had very little merchandise and didn’t carry what I wanted/needed are the stores I will pass by next year. As far as my business went, they gambled and lost.

And other stores, who stepped into the breech with both customer service and quality goods will continue to get my business.

I had to drive all the way to Purchase to mail my bills because I couldn’t get near, even on foot, the post office right up the street. Sigh.

Got a rejection from a publication that both threw me and annoyed me. I know the story stands up. This is the second rejection I’ve gotten from the editor — both times, the reasons given were things that should have been in the guidelines — if you don’t want stories with more than three characters (first rejection), or you don’t want a protag under the age of 18 (second rejection), that needs to be in the guidelines. Yes, a lot of writers don’t follow guidelines properly. But, for those of us who make our living at this and actually pay attention, the guidelines need to be accurate.

Bottom line is, this woman doesn’t like my work, so I’m scratching the publication off my list and moving on. In spite of the recession, there are plenty of publications out there. And some of them have published me before and want more from me, so I better get going on that.

And I already sent out the rejected story to another market. My first submission of 2010!

Got back the rider from one publisher who’s expanding an anthology in which I appear from print into digital as well. Very happy about that. I’ve really enjoyed working with them on this anthology and the one that’s coming out in April. I love my editor there — she’s fantastic. We can really go back and forth on the details of a piece, not in conflict, but working in tandem to make the piece the best and most effective it can be.

My SMITHSONIAN magazine started arriving (since I”m now a member). It’s really great. There’s so much information I can use as research for my writing — splendid! Even stuff set in the era in which I’m currently writing! I love synchronicity.

Have a good Sunday, all! Thanks for all the good wishes towards Elsa. We can certainly use them.

Devon

Published in: on January 3, 2010 at 7:10 am  Comments (4)  
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