Coping with Rejection
You know the shill – once you’re published with a *real* publisher (your definition of ‘real’ goes here – whatever it may be) – you’ll never have to worry about rejection again. I wish. Rejection happens. I got one just yesterday.
Sure, you can go into a tailspin wondering what’s wrong with your story. You can obsess over the fact that it must not have had enough action, or enough sex, or enough tension, and maybe that typo you found AFTER you’d sent the submission really was the death knell… Or you can stop and realize that rejection is a business decision. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s not personal. All right. If your rejection letter/email says ‘you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny’, then you might could take that personally. Anything else, though? No. “Not right for us at this time” means precisely that.
Sure, it could be because the writing bites. It’s a thought I have to entertain about my project that was rejected yesterday – just cause Berkley published two books and a novella – it doesn’t mean that every story idea I have (or you have) is going to be a home run. How do you cope with that, though? I think it was Stella Cameron and Jayne Ann Krentz who said at a workshop that you get twenty-four hours to bitch, moan and otherwise gnash your teeth. Then get over it and get back to work.
I like thinking about rejection as a message. No. Not one that screams “You suck”, though that occassionally pops into my head. I like thinking of it as a pointer from the universe at large, one that says ‘this story doesn’t belong here – there’s someplace better suited for it and for you’. Yeah, it’s a quasi-religious thing about trust. It makes me a tad uncomfortable, but it’s worked pretty darned well so far. Every time I’ve ever not gotten something I thought I wanted it turned out to be to my advantage. Example: There was a job. Didn’t get it. Got angry and upset before I reminded myself that there must be a really good reason I didn’t get what I’d wanted. Three weeks later, the company had been sold and the northwest division dismantled, dumping the entire workforce out into the market. By that time, though, I was gainfully employed at a killer little game company. So, yes. Trust.
Another option for coping – one I’ll be using on this project that got it’s very own pink slip – taking a long, hard look at the story and deciding whether it’s right. Please tell me you know what I mean. When I started writing this story, it began as one thing (an erotica), but quickly morphed away from that into something more action-adventury. To submit the story to the particular line I thought I wanted, I flushed the action-adventure and went for straight heat – though it never did live up to the erotica label. But now that it’s been tossed out of the box I’d designed it to fit into, I can go back and question the characters and the story. What does it want to be? What do I want it to be? From there, I can run so many different directions. So is that a coping mechanism? Viewing a rejection as a kind of freedom?
Ultimately, I suspect that how you cope with rejection is far less important than doing it. Though I want to know how other people handle getting those awful ‘gee, thanks but no thanks’ messages. I’m going to guess that chocolate figures prominently. I think it comes down to remembering that no one can give up on you except you. Don’t. You’re better than that. And when you need a bit of inspiration to not give up on you – have a look at this video. You’ve probably already seen it. Doesn’t matter. It’s worth watching again to remind yourself that you’re the one with the power to create something. And if you have that power, do you also have an obligation, do you think?