Rejection, rejection, rejection…

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Regarding writing
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Rejection is something that practically all writers have some experience with. Stephen King got rejected, JK Rowling got rejected, in fact the only author off the top of my head who was never rejected was James Herbert, who pretty much sold The Rats to the first publisher he sent it to, but even then they assumed he’d been rejected before, and he tells the story that they asked what else he had, somehow assuming The Rats was far from his first novel, and that he probably had a few others gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.

This subject has probably been blogged to death by others, but I suspect it’s a rite of passage for anyone who blogs about writing, to discuss the issue at some point, so I’m discussing it now.

I got two rejections in the post on Saturday morning, one from the magazine Interzone, and the other from the comic 2000AD. That they both arrived on the same morning was an unhappy coincidence, and even though I tried to keep my hopes up when opening each of them, I guess I know they were likely rejections, after all surely if they were interested they’d have emailed/called me?

Unfortunately the nature of many of the publishers out there means that they don’t have the time to spare in providing any feedback (though I did get some positive words about the first strip I submitted to 2000 AD a few years ago, and some of the indie publishers will often give you a bit of feedback.)

I understand why this is, and given the mounds of stuff they need to read through it must be a hard enough job just to get everything read in a reasonable amount of time, without then providing feedback to the vast majority who they choose not to publish.

The downside is that as such it’s hard to know how close you are to being accepted, or it has to be said, how far away, but that’s just one of the things we writers have to put up with.

Does rejection get any easier? I’d say probably not, and I’ve even heard professional writers say that it still hurts. For me the twin rejections were mitigated somewhat by me getting Galley Proofs of the Dead Rush anthology to check for errors. Having had stories published does soften the blow a little. At the end of the day I know I have some small modicum of talent—whether it’s enough to see me go further is another matter but even when I’m in a run of rejections the logical part of my mind keeps insisting that I’ll get an acceptance again, because I’ve had them before.

Of course this assumes I always listen to the logical part of my brain 🙂

I still remember what it was like before anyone chose to publish me. It’s hard, hard work to keep going, to keep sending story after story out without success. But if you want to make it as a writer I’m afraid that’s what you have to do. Rejection might mean you aren’t cut out to be a writer, or it might just mean you need to improve, or that maybe your style or writing doesn’t appeal to the particular person who’s rejected you.

Dealing with rejection is like the cliché of falling off a horse, if you want to be a rider you have to get back on the horse and if you want to be a writer you have to keep writing and keep submitting. Write a new story and try again, and try sending the rejected story elsewhere; I’ve had stories published that were rejected by several people before being accepted. It’s hard going sometimes, and it isn’t easy…unless you’re James “lucky” Herbert of course!

And that’s why later on this week a new story will be winging its way to Interzone.

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