Wednesday word tangle: why you should take drugs before opening that email

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

I’ve had two instances where I’ve received two rejections on the same day.

I don’t mean romantic rejections. For me, overtures towards the opposite sex have gone the way of the long player (ask your parents), Sunday closing and wearing leggings. Maybe they were part of my life once, but now they’re merely distant memories that I may have dreamt once, when I was young, single and slim.

No, I mean literary rejections. Now, I’ve written about rejections before here and here. It may seem a bit of a theme on this blog – along with snarky comments and grabbing the reader by the hand, dragging them down the litter strewn back streets of my brain and screaming ‘Look at that!’ at the randomness that lays therein.

But rejection is part of writing – it’s certainly been part of MY writing – and writers are made better by it.

When you start to write, you’ll be lucky not to have more pieces rejected than accepted. It’s just the way of things. You wouldn’t expect to be a world class unicyclist without spending at least a few hours in A & E – so it is for aspiring writers. Don’t expect not to be rejected, because you damn well will be – you’re just not good enough yet.

But …

You mustn’t let that dishearten you, because you know, the very best are rejected dozens of times. And each letter which says ‘thanks but this isn’t quite right for us’, each email that says ‘the standard was very high’ – each blank space (because the majority of competitions will not contact you at all if you’re unsuccessful) – is a battle scar you should wear proudly.

Hey, man, see this here? (Rolls up metaphorical sleeve). This was my fifth manuscript refusal. And this? (Rips open metaphorical shirt) A serial rejection from Woman’s Weekly. It’s tough out there, man. Now … .Let me look at yours.

The best thing about rejections is learning from them. Okay, you may spend the first few hours after receiving one cursing, kicking the dog, outraged at the sheer stupidity of the editor in question. But that’s just the first stage of grief. And it’s no good wallowing in the belief that you’re just not good enough and why are you bothering when you could stick with what you know you can do easily – like reading Heat magazine or descaling the kettle.

STOP RIGHT THERE. Maybe your prose isn’t polished enough yet, maybe you use too many adjectives and adverbs and your work is riddled with enough cliches to sink a battleship (Haha!). But you can do something about all that. It takes time and practice, but you can do it.

At least our scars don’t cause us actual harm. Or do they?

They’ve done research (who the hell are ‘they’? I don’t know, but they’re always very busy) that claims when we’re rejected, the same part of the brain is stimulated as the one that registers physical pain. Possibly something to do with a primeval need to be accepted by our social group.

I guess if caveman Ugg felt physical pain at the thought of being outcast from the mammoth hunt, he’d be less inclined to bash Nogg on the head with his club – no matter how hilarious he found it. 

‘They’ also found that because of this link, painkillers lessen feelings of rejection. 

What can a writer take from this?

Well, firstly, we all want our own version of mammoth steaks – publication, acceptance by our readership.

And secondly. When you see the email in your inbox from that magazine competition, go take a fistful of painkillers.

Just in case

Today’s Wednesday Word Tangle was brought to you by the word


and the number 7 … For no particular reason.

Many thanks to Kat for W4W and for being so fantastic 🙂


28 thoughts on “Wednesday word tangle: why you should take drugs before opening that email

  1. The singer Courtney Barnett has a lyric that goes something like, ‘if you don’t aim too high at least you won’t have far to fall.’ Aim high, fall hard. Only way to fly I think.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yep. What else can you do? I don’t write just for me – I want to be read too. And to do that you have to send your work flapping into the world. Anyway, when it goes well, it’s the best thing ever 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I don’t know about Courtney Barnett but I recall Alfred’s question in Batman Begins: “Why do we fall, Master Bruce?” The answer is, of course, so we can get up again. But we do have to accept that (a) we have to learn the lessons from the fall so as to move on, and (b) sometimes the cause of the fall is outside our control. Determination and acceptance. Two platitudes to live our lives by. Or not.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ah, Michael Caine is the best thing in those films – such a lovely performance. And yes, you’re right about learning from the fall. No point in falling (or having a piece of writing work rejected) and then making the same mistakes next time. Though, of course, many publications don’t make it easy for us but not saying WHY we didn’t make the grade.
        And acceptance is a good life lesson – we’d all be a lot happier (myself included) if we could just accept certain things in our lives and not strive against them

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Of course, I was subconsciously remembering the words of St Francis — ” Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change,he courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” — with my two platitudes. But he said it so much better.

        PS Sorry to blast so many of these replies back at you, but stimulating conversations like these are one of the things I like about WP blogs!

        Liked by 2 people

      3. No need to apologise – always good to chat about the interesting 🙂 St Francis certainly knew what he was talking about. I may not agree with his lifestyle choices ( 🙂 ) but we could all do with taking a pinch of that advice

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s brilliant. Pardon my haste, tiny keyboard, big storm (“Abigail”). Great comment, the kind I can make a meal out of. Bill

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Hope Abigail wasn’t too fiesty for you. She must’ve been quite an experience – is the worst over? And why, oh why, are all these big storms named after women? Are meteorologists inherently sexist? Storms and massive, bulky ships – always referred to a female. A girl could get quite a complex 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Yes, I still have my Woman’s Weekly rejection letter (which I keep with a certain amount of pride 🙂 ), but with hindsight I should never have sent them that particular story – a very bad fit.
      I think the Peoples’ Friend serial idea I’ve sent is a better match stylistically, though one aspect of the story (a dead child) may be too grime for them. Though, they do say they’re broadening their scope …
      No, nothing from Hodder. Do you think I should start to worry I’ve been lost in cyber space? A friend of mine got her rejection a fortnight tomorrow but I haven’t contacted Hodder as they specifically say don’t email. Not sure what to think about it, really.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, if they specifically say not to email in, I’d wait. Maybe they are still debating your manuscript and you wouldn’t want to annoy them… I’d wait for the next update on their blog.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yep, that’s what I thought. And still no word, BTW. I do keep checking the site, but nothing new yet. Keep imagining my sub having slipped down a gap between the floorboards of cyberspace …

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks, Sonya. Only time will tell. I’ve worked out (because I’m tragic) if they get through the rest of the subs in the time it took to read the first three quarters, it’ll all be over and done with in a week or so. We’ll see. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your comment about cliches remind me of the (apocryphal?) tale of the newspaper editor whose advice to his reporters was to “avoid cliches like the plague”. Advice which seems to have escaped most tabloid staff (and not a few broadsheet writers) like the proverbial one that got away.


    Great post, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 Surely, that must be apocryphal? Although they’re easy to slip into because they’re good at what they do – communicate an idea in shorthand. And I don’t actually think a lot of readers are that fussy when it comes to cliches – they’ll enjoy a rattling story, a plot driven story, whether it’s written with an original hand or not.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I found the research part of this most interesting… Rejection hurts!
    I admire you so much for sticking with it and coping amazingly well with rejection, (although I think the ones that have rejected you are batshit cray-cray).
    Keep on swimming!
    Kat x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks sweety 🙂 I admit to the odd rejection flooring me for a few days – if I had a dog I would have kicked it. Unfortunately, my son and hubster got it in the neck instead. But (so far) I’ve managed to pick myself up again and use it to improve the work. Not sure how I’ll cope with my first novel manuscript rejection. Though I’ve already written a blog post on the subject as a coping mechanism :).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! I think I saw it as realistic more than pessimistic, the likelihood it will be rejected at least a few times before SOMEONE likes it 🙂 I think it will be published – one day. There’s worse out there …

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well that helps explain why so many writers are drunks…painkillers come in bottles too. O.o And another thing (not just a pride saver) sometimes we are rejected because we didn’t do our homework and send our ‘masterpiece’ to the rigth type of publication. I really enjoy your tone and humor, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Mary 🙂 And yes, you’re absolutely right. I’m guilty (with Woman’s Weekly, actually) of sending the wrong story to the wrong publication. I think I’m learning though. Always read several issues of the magazine before you submit is my rule now – saves disappointment later 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.