Dealing With Rejection

As all successful writers will tell you, rejection is part of the process. From Ray Bradbury, to Frank Herbert, to George Orwell and James Joyce, every great has always admitted that before they were well known, they were a nobody. Publishing houses wouldn’t take risks on their manuscripts, editors told them it simply wasn’t what they were looking for, and friends and family told them to simply persevere. Sooner or later, their genius would be recognized for what it was.

That’s what I tell myself whenever I get the form rejection letter that I found in my Inbox this morning. For some months, I have been trying to get my short story “Domicile 4.5” published with a magazine. It’s a story of the not-too-distant future, of nanotechnology, avarice, and the dangers of constantly trying to “keep up”. And this is the third magazine to tell me, in essence, “thanks, but not what we’re looking for.”

Of course, I will try again. There are other magazines who have specified that they interested in speculative fiction and technologically based stories, so all hope is not lost yet. But it does get me down, right? One can’t help but feel personally rejected when a  form letter like this arrives. Whenever you express yourself creatively and someone says “no, thanks”, you can’t help but go through gambit of emotions. Self-doubt, sadness, and maybe even a little anger. What am I doing wrong? What was wrong with it? Surely, there must be a reason right?

Of course, I know that everyone out there knows precisely what I’m talking about. Whether it was a job application, a relationship, a petition to join a group – we’ve all been there. So I thought I might open the floor and ask my friends and colleagues out there, what kind’s of rejection stories do you have? More importantly, what did you do to soldier on when it happened? Is there a magical elixir to let yourself know that you are the problem, that this is just part of the process, or that you’re efforts are worth and just haven’t been recognized yet? Feel free to share because I’m interested to know 🙂

In the meantime, I thought I might post it here, just to see if people might actually find it worth reading. Stay tuned!

10 thoughts on “Dealing With Rejection

  1. I’ve been through the whole damn process of rejection – six years ago the few agents who accept sf sent me that preprinted form or an email, one of which ended in a protracted arguement (by email) with my rejector. So a miserable time was has. And I’m about to repeat the same process again; the first agent hasn’t even bothered replying!

    It’s a tough time to get anything published at the moment, but you’ve probably heard that before – and that you shouldn’t give up trying.

  2. My alien invasion short story “Ripple” was rejected by the first magazine I sent it too. I thought it might be bad, especially since the aliens resemble the Navi a little. However I decided to try again, and this summer I learned “Nth Degree” wanted to publish it. It’ll be coming out next month.

  3. I would want to know..if this is not what we’re looking for then what the hell ARE you looking for??

    I read a book on writing Called Bird by Bird. The author had a favorite rejection letter. it read something like “You are suffering from the common delusion that many writers have, that your life is in any way interesting to others.” That really cracked me up. And she claims that it inspired her to persevere just to spite him.

  4. Story rejection is a bitch. I truly understand how that feels. People tell me not to take the rejection personally, because it’s not personal. Logically, I know this and in the end I always realize that. It’s that first initial reaction that says otherwise, and it hurts like hell.

    Glad you have a back up plan (so to speak) and will submit at other places. That’s the best thing in the world to do.

    Good luck!

  5. I haven’t received a single rejection letter. The reason for this is because I’ve never sent out a query letter requesting publication. 🙂 … possibly for fear of rejection but mainly because nothing I have is ready.
    I have however, entered a few, but not many, competitions and not won any. I guess that’s a similar feeling but perhaps not as strong. So I stopped entering comps. Opportunities wasted, perhaps? Maybe, but there’s always another chance.

  6. One of my favorite quotes that I remind myself of during those dreaded rejection letters is by Winston Churchill. “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” It perfectly encapsulates the attitude I want to have about failure as a stepping stone to my goal. 🙂
    And be assured that you are a gifted and talented writer. We keep coming back for more for a reason!

  7. Hang in there! You’re not alone. “Keep on Writing” -that’s my mantra. Keep on writing, keep on submitting, and eventually, something will stick. At least it damned well better. 😉

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