The Good ‘No’

Rejection is hard.

Do I smell? Is that the problem?

But, as a working writer, it’s something I have to deal with on a pretty routine basis. Ever since I started submitted stories with regularity last year, I’ve gotten more rejections than acceptances. Which is par for the course of any writer’s career. Stephen King and Jo Rowling got turned down a bunch, and now they’re mega-stars. Those stories are the rule, as opposed to exceptions like Stephanie Meyer, who got an acceptance on her first thing and it became a mega-hit.

I am no King or Rowling (yet!), so I still have to deal with a steady stream of ‘No, thanks’, and ‘Thanks, but no thanks’, and even the occasional, plain old, ‘No’. It’s not always easy to take. Sometimes, it makes me question why I’m bothering.

(Generally, this is when I take a step away from the computer and have a day of self-care. I read, drink tea, eat snacks, watch a movie I love, or otherwise do anything other than think about being a writer. Because I know why I bother. I bother because I love it, and not doing it would stifle something inside me I couldn’t live without.)

Each time I get a rejection, I have to brush myself off a bit and remind myself about all those other successful writers who have gone through what I’m going through, and are now kicking ass and taking names.

Right, so, you spell that, ‘B-I-G, T-I-M-E, P-U-B-L-I-S-H-E-R?

Persistence is the name of the game. Well, not the entire name. Talent and hard work figure in there too, of course. But if I gave up the first time someone wasn’t interested, I never would have gotten where I am now.

Admittedly, I still have a long way to go. But I’ve got one novella published, and that’s just the beginning.

That knowledge makes it easier to keep going every time I get another ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ email about one of my stories.

Another thing that helps get me through are the rare personal notes from an encouraging editor. I got one of those today. She was very positive and made it clear that though they really liked my story, it came down to it not fitting the anthology they are putting together.

I’ve gotten a few of those before. It’s always nice to know it’s not my writing that’s putting them off.

This particular rejection was one that didn’t even feel like a rejection, once I got to the end of the email. The editor in question not only assured me they really liked my story and encouraged me to submit further work, she said she’d “love to see more” of my writing.

It’s not as great as an acceptance, but I’ll damn well take it. With thanks.

When an editor takes the time to go that extra mile to express how much they liked something, even if they didn’t accept it, it means a whole hell of a lot. Editors are busy people.

So, I got another rejection. But it feels pretty fucking good.

Or an email telling them you aren’t going to take their story, but want to read more of their writing. Whatever.

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