Embracing Rejection--Part One

Embracing Rejection--Part One

When I first decided to write, I bought a typewriter (a Sears knockoff of the IBM Selectric I really wanted), and I went to work. In reasonably short order, I finished a short story and sent it off to a literary journal of some reputation. And it was--as you might guess--rejected.

No big deal, right? But I had no experience in this kind of thing, so I had no idea what to expect or how to prepare myself for what happened. And what happened was that the editor wrote a rather lengthy response to the piece, saying how much he liked much of it, but that he thought a key episode in the story seemed too far-fetched to be believed.

This was (as you know, and as I now have figured out for myself) a gift. I was close to success! But it didn't feel that way to me.

You see, the part he couldn't believe was the only part of the story I had actually drawn from my own personal experience. And so I dismissed the editor as an idiot, and I decided that the story was too good for him--and for anyone else for that matter.

I didn't submit any writing again for a long time.

You know you are going to be rejected.  A lot. Everyone tells you so. So you brace yourself and hope that You Are Different. But likely, you will have to slug your way out of the slush pile like everyone else.

That's what makes the small victories so precious--all the rejection and self doubt that led to them. But without the doubts to test you, how would you learn that this really matters? And without the rejection, how would the success be meaningful.

But for God's sake--if someone actually comments on your work, pay attention! And get back to it as soon as you can. It's as close to a sign as you are likely to receive that someone out there is interested.

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