Rejection with Rainbow Sprinkles

Rejection is part of the dance. We write, submit and wait…wash, rinse and repeat. Elated when our work is accepted and deflated when the email reads “Thank you, but…”

It happens. It’s expected. It’s like being a baseball player. They don’t hit every time they step up to the plate and neither will you. But there are misses that feel good…like a foul tip that you know, in the back of your mind, was a half-inch from connecting for a base hit. Maybe even a home run. If it was ice cream, it’d be a double scoop, flavor of the month.

There are also rejections that come complete with chocolate syrup and rainbow sprinkles. These are the rejections where the senior editor took the time to explain why they weren’t taking your story and also explained what they liked about it, what worked. The cherry on top is the invitation to send more stories, when the editor says he or she would like to see more from you.

You’ve reached a new level in your writing life when you no longer get bummed about rejections. Record it, accept it, and send that sucker right back out to another market. Sure, there might be some revisions to make, some suggestions to consider, but you need to get that story back out on the wings of rat-pigeons (yes, rats with pigeon wings that carry stories across the great writing divide…what? You don’t use rat-pigeons? Oh, come on…).

You’ve reached another level entirely when you get excited about a rejection. When you proudly show off your most recent rejection. When you read it back over about 16 times. When you blog about it.

Yep. Happened today. Received a rejection from a prominent magazine in which the senior editor had this to say:

Dear Joe,

Thank you for allowing [Magazine] to consider “[STORY],” but I’m going to pass on this one.

There is a lot to like here–I love the setting and the overall idea–but in the end I didn’t feel the

story did enough with itself for [MAGAZINE’S] liking. It feels like there are layers and emotions left to explore here.

Best of luck with this one, and please do try us again. I’d like to see more from you!

So, sure it wasn’t accepted. I mean, that’s the goal right…but look what I can take away from this: “A lot to like here”, “Love the setting and overall idea”, “please do try us again”, and the ultimate Happy Dance invoker, “I’d like to see more from you!”. Editor’s exclamation point, not mine.

After the 14th time I read the email, it dawned on me. Blog about this. Share this rejection experience with the writing world. Sure, there are plenty of you who know this stuff already. There may be plenty of you who receive these kinds of rejections, or maybe don’t receive that many any more at all (though I dare say that even very successful writers still get rejected). But there are also plenty of writers just beginning to experience the cut of rejection, the sour taste of “no thanks.”

To those of you not comfortable yet with rejection, be ye not afraid. Rejection means you’re in the game. Rejection means you’re swinging the bat, eating the ice cream..maybe even eating the ice cream while swinging the bat. This makes no sense, but I felt obligated to return to my metaphors. The important thing here is that you understand, there are some rejections worth getting excited about.

There are some rejections with sprinkles.

Let’s hear from you! Any rejection stories to share? Good, bad, or ugly? Leave a comment. Share with the rest of us…


One comment on “Rejection with Rainbow Sprinkles

  1. Jane George says:

    Rejection can make one’s writing stronger. I played the game for ten years. Fall of 2009 I finally signed with an agency. My book went on submission in May 2010. In August my agent left the business to concentrate on writing. In October my inherited agent dropped me after the Big 6 passed, or didn’t respond, which is common now. Out of all that, I gained the strength to trust my own voice. Publishers and agents are trying to fill slots that are becoming more and more narrowly defined by previous commercial successes. Traditional writerly wisdom says my book didn’t make the cut because it wasn’t good enough. I will send a free ebook to anyone who believes that. Yep, my series was not going in a drawer. I went Indie.

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