Dealing With Rejections
I am perhaps the least qualified person to write this post. Not because my stories don’t get rejected, far from it! In fact, I recently passed my 200th rejection. I’m unqualified because those 200 rejections never really got to me.
When I first started out, I read story after story of how many rejections some famous (or not-so-famous) author got before they became a famous author. Literally every author has this story. If you’re around long enough, you collect rejection letters. That’s just the way it is. So when my truckloads of rejections started rolling in, it didn’t bother me. Everybody gets these, I’m part of the in-crowd! I assumed it didn’t bother me because I was prepared, and I assumed you just got used to it and that’s what it took to be a writer. (To be fair, I also kind of assumed that my stories sucked, so I especially expected rejection.) Let it roll off your back or give up.
However, now that I’ve gotten to know a lot of writers, I discover that this is not really true. A lot of people have trouble dealing with it. Most people. Yes, you have to get used to it to some degree, because you *will* get a lot of rejections no matter how great you are, but people have different degrees of ability to bounce back from that. Some people trunk a story after 2 or 3 rejections, convinced it is awful. Some people sink into depression every time they get a rejection. Some people can’t send out stories in the first place, for fear of future rejection. Whatever 30 seconds of disappointment I felt before totally forgetting about it altogether was essentially bullet-proof compared to most people.
For whatever reason, I never take rejections personally. That’s what everybody tells you to do, “Oh, don’t take it personally!” but I think people still do. As a human being, they can’t help it. For me, though, it really never is personal. Again, maybe this is because I was well prepared in advance? Maybe I took all the advice like, “A rejection just means that story wasn’t for that editor on that day” to heart? I don’t know. But for whatever reason, for me it’s like: Didn’t like it? Shrug. Maybe on the next time out. No reflection on the story, much less on me or my writing.
Egomania on my part? Perhaps.
I think perhaps it’s just that my personality seems to be well suited for it. This is why I am a terrible person to write this post; I’m not sure I have any advice that can help. How can I tell someone not to be bothered by something? Have a good attitude? At the end of the day it comes down to the same tired platitudes: expect rejection, don’t take it personally, don’t let it bother you. But at least know you’re not alone: when it comes to rejection, all writers are in the same boat. And furthermore, even if rejection DOES get you down, you’re not alone either! Some of the most amazing, prolific authors still go to pieces over rejections, possibly even more than you do.
I will say that rejections are a little harder to take, now that I get better rejections. In the beginning I was just throwing stuff out there, with not a lot of hope that anything would stick. Now I have better stories and I know the markets better, so sometimes I’m just *absolutely sure* a story is good for a market, which makes it more disappointing to be rejected. Also, getting a series of “almost!” rejections for a story can be frustrating.
And then you send it back out to the next market and get to work on a better story. That’s the only part you can control.