What do you hate most about writing? Cranky editors, staring at a blank computer screen when the muse doesn’t want to cooperate? No, I’m guessing it’s those dreaded rejections.
If there was ever a downside to the writing life, it’s opening up your mailbox and finding a returned manuscript with a letter saying, sorry, not this time. As an author and freelance writer, rejections are an inevitable part of my life. So after all these years of writing, have they got any easier to tolerate? Nope, I still hate them, they still drive me crazy, but I have found some good things about rejections.
Rejections Mean You're a Working Writer
Getting one rejection after another doesn’t make you feel good, but it does mean you’re actually writing and having the courage to send your work to editors. Think of all the writers who just talk about getting published and never do. Not because of lack of talent, but because they’re scared to be rejected. You’ve taken the first step and for that you should be proud.
Rejections Can be a Gauge for your Writing Skills
My writing career started with short stories. And it seemed every single one came back with the standard rejection letter. You know the ones that start with Dear Writer….Then as my writing career progressed the standard ones turned into more personal rejections with handwritten notes on the bottom of the paper. And I gradually worked my way up to actually receiving typed letters outlining what worked and what didn’t for that particular editor. Had the publishing world got kinder, editors less busy? No, my writing got stronger and those rejection letters were a gauge of the improvement I’d made over the years.
Rejection Letters Can Be a Free Critique
Have you see those ads in writing magazines for book doctors who can show you what you’re doing wrong? And have you seen how much they charge per word or page? Sometimes your rejection letter can be a free critique. Maybe the editor feels you need to work on making the characters stronger, the pacing tighter. Take their advice, work on those weak areas and learn from your mistakes.
Repeated Rejections Can Be a Way to Get to Know an Editor
If you keep submitting to the same editor…and I don’t mean the same manuscript they’ve just rejected, he or she will get to know you. Hopefully, they’ll see your writing skills improve. And they’ll know you’re serious about making a career for yourself.
Rejections Can Make You More Determined
Maybe it’s just me, but when a rejection lands in my mail and or e-mail box, it makes me just that more determined to find a home for it. I’ll let it sit for a week or so and then take second look. Sometimes I’m surprised at just how quickly I can find what’s wrong with it.
Rejections Can Make You Write More
I know some people who send in their first story and won’t work on their next piece until the first one sells. Sometimes it takes 4-6 months to hear back from an editor and you’re writing skills are going to get rusty. Call this a silly superstition of mine, but I try and get the first draft of my next manuscript finished by the time and hear back from an editor. Sometimes being so involved with a new plot, creating new characters takes away some of the sting rejections can bring.
Susan Palmquist is a freelance writer and author of three novels. A Sterling Affair published by The Wild Rose Press. And Death Likes Me and The One and Only both published by Hearts on Fire Books. You can read excerpts and see book covers by visiting her Web site at www.susanpalmquist.com