Look For The Lesson
It happened to me. No, I am not writing about #whammageddon, although that did happen on December 11th, 2020. According to the rules, I heard it on the radio at work, so it was fair play and random.
What happened is much more serious. In a year that we are all struggling to get through, I got a rejection letter.
It is not my first, and it will not be my last. It is the only one for this calendar year. With my other submissions being accepted, it knocked me for a loop. For a few minutes.
In those minutes, the self-doubt crept in. It reminded me that I wasn’t sure I had done my best for the story and that the publishers saw through my efforts. When I wrote it, I felt rushed, and also restricted by the word count. It was like trying to eat a delicious messy taco in your best outfit. The sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes fall out the side opposite from your first bite. You scoop them up with your fingers to cram them back into the taco shell so you can eat it and the bottom falls out of the taco and the fillings drop into your lap. Splat. So much for the outfit.
As I wrote, I knew it might be rejected. I had a feeling that it would happen. Which says a lot for my intuition, I guess. But then the self-doubt started swinging harder at my self-esteem.
Before I even realized it, the word failure entered my mind, and it took aim at my entrepreneur dreams. I am working on several income streams simultaneously to having a part-time job and writing as much as I can. The makeup biz took a mental hit alongside the writing. All the time I have spent on self-improvement and my mindset is starting to pay off. I recognized what was going on.
“The way to lessen the sting of rejection is to look for the lesson.”
I decided to take a deep breath and share my disappointment in a few safe places. I have made wonderful friends and have an amazing support system within the online author world. One friend encouraged me to submit it elsewhere after I worked on it some more. It is a valid option.
Another group helped by reminding me that it is something all authors go through, and recommended I read On Writing by Stephen King, a book that is on my wish list, and another I hadn’t heard of before. Becoming A Writer by Dorothea Brande is a new book I am adding to this to be read list. For a third option, my editor and other people have suggested Anne Lamont’s Bird By Bird: Some Instructions On Writing And Life, another I have been waiting to read.
Before I went to bed, I attempted to kick the ego out. The voice that whispered failure and desperately tried every trick it knew to drag me into the depths of despair. I read the feedback on the story. There were a few disconnects with the main character and why the plotline was going in the direction I wrote. One critique pointed out the potential but still wanted further character development.
When I let myself think more objectively about the story, I already knew it felt rushed and upon further reflection, it felt too big for the constraints put upon it.
After a restless night of dreams where I was protecting myself from an attacker, I woke up feeling incredibly tense. I took a few minutes to shake the bad dreams off and was able to get a couple of hours of more restful sleep before the morning.
Ever since I took on this daunting task of becoming an author, I planned to write in the genre I love the most, fantasy. To be more precise, a fantasy trilogy. After taking a little time to recover from the shock of the rejection, I want to see if this story is meant to be my fantasy trilogy. I have an idea, and to be true to it, I will need to explore it further.
Rejection is difficult to deal with, but it is a fact you have to grow accustomed to as an author. It is not me who is being rejected, but the story I have submitted. The way to lessen the sting of rejection is to look for the lesson. I was lucky to receive the feedback I did because not all publishers feel it necessary to provide it. From what I hear, most don’t, and those that do are not often positive in their critiques.
I learn by doing, and I often fly by the seat of my pants and go by feel when it comes to my writing. Next time, when I feel like something is being rushed or not right for the call for submission, I will remember this and use my judgment before pressing send.