Nope, this isn’t the start of a bleak, windswept poem.Rejection is a part of producing any piece of work. Nothing is perfect first time round, and perception of value is always influenced by the experience and value of the reader. Despite knowing this, the reality of having work rejected is something that new writers seem to find hard to talk about.
Perhaps it’s because it’s tied up with so many emotions, a lot of them rooted in precarious teenage years. Those feelings of being on the outside of the group and never quite knowing which friends to trust are common feelings for many people.For me, they’ve never quite left, and I’m finally starting to embrace them as part of who I am. I’m not sure I’d want to write and create if all I wanted was to be part of the crowd. Our past experience shapes us, and whilst we can’t ever control what happens,or how others treat us we can try to control our response. That doesn’t mean it’s easy!
This association with failure and exclusion is what makes the acceptance of rejection as inevitable so difficult, and so rarely mentioned, unless it’s to trot out the legendary number of times Carrie or Harry Potter were rejected*. Putting work out to tender is a big leap. Competitions feel ok,they’re anonymous, and no letter is sent back to me. It’s pretty easy for me to forget I even entered. Sending to a publication? Very different. It’s that feeling that someone has read my work, sniggered,smirked and decided I can’t join in.
Except,of course, they haven’t done that. All they have done is read it, (possibly), and decided that it’s not suitable for their magazine. They haven’t pronounced me a terrible writer, they haven’t rolled their eyes with disgust that I had the temerity to sully their office with my tat, and they haven’t sent me a raven bearing the missive “Never write again”. The editor of a magazine, or journal is simply looking for something that will excite their readers, and keep the subscriptions flowing.
One of the best things about studying writing is learning to crave criticism . It is what has helped me to grow and improve. It’s not always easy to hear, and it’s not always well delivered, but being told where I’ve gone wrong, and how to improve is one of the greatest gifts I can be given.
I’m looking forward to getting rejection letters. Even if I’m not accepted into one gang, I know I had the guts to try, and one day I’ll find the people who are right for me. Being in a position to be able to produce work that other people might enjoy is fantastic, and the bumps along the way are part of learning and understanding.
If only everything else was so straightforward……..
*Carrie was rejected 30 times. Harry Potter was rejected 12 times, with one publisher recommending JK Rowling attend a writing group to help her development.
The best people get rejected, have a read here