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.
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 🙂