Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. This month we were asked, ‘When rejections feel overwhelming, what do you do to get yourself out of this negative funk?’
Oh no! This morning I wrote my October ISWG blog from a question I’d printed out September 20th. The event page had this question – which I wrote to.
October 4th – IWSG Blog Day — Optional Question: When rejections feel overwhelming, what do you do to get yourself out of this negative funk?
After the blog was written and scheduled, I saw another ISWG blog where that was written to a far different question. Going to the blog hop page, I saw this question – October 4 question – Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?
I know all is good. We don’t have to strictly follow the question of the month. But I wanted to clarify so if you read this and see the question I was writing to and then you go visit other blogs on the blog hop and see something totally different – that is why. (And by the way, the answer to the 2nd question is ‘Oh my, YES! But that’s a whole other blog post, so we’ll save that for another time.)
Celebrating the Yes’s and the No’s
What I did then and what I do now are vastly different. I’d hope so. I would certainly wish that over the past few years I’ve grown as a writer, developed a thicker skin, and also grown in my personal and spiritual life. Which ultimately means if I’ve grown, I’ve also changed in the way I respond to many various life issues, only one of which is how I respond to rejections.
When I began freelancing several years ago, a single rejection wouldn’t devastate me. I knew it was part of the process – part of a writer’s life. But when I got several – okay, many – rejections in a week, and I think three within 24-hours, I crumbled. I laid on the bed and sobbed until I didn’t have a tear left. I took it personally. That many rejections all at one time meant I probably wasn’t going to pay the bills that month. I felt like a failure. For a week I wallowed in self-doubt and self-pity.
Fast forward a few years and now I’m not derailed like before. Occasionally I’ll still get waylaid for a day or two if the rejection I got was a publication that I greatly desired. But for most of them now, I shrug my shoulders, vow to send out another – or two or three – and I go on about the business of writing.
To keep my spirits up, sometimes I’ll do a search for popular writer’s rejections.
For a few instances, Authors.me, on their post Award-Winning, Best-Selling Authors Who Were Rejected, reported on these popular authors:
Zane Grey’s first experience getting paid for what he scribbled came when he sold a short story for ten dollars in 1902. His first novel, written the following winter, was not as successful, and when every publisher he submitted to rejected the work, his wife paid to have it published. The book did not turn a profit. If Grey was discouraged by this, he luckily got over the discouragement enough to become a prolific and widely-read author. The sales of his 90 or so books have exceeded 40 million copies.
Stephen King sounds downright proud of the number of times he was rejected as a young writer. In his On Writing, he says he pinned every rejection letter he received to his wall with a nail. “By the time I was fourteen,” he continues, “the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”
Robert M. Pirsig weathered an amazing 121 rejections before selling Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book now considered an American cultural icon.
Kathryn Stockett was turned down by 60 literary agents before she found someone willing to represent The Help. “Three weeks later,” she says, “we sold the book.” The Help later spent 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
H.G. Wells received a note in which the editor predicted, “I think the verdict would be, ‘Oh, don’t read that horrid book.’” Nevertheless, The War of the Worlds was published in 1898 and has not since gone out of print.
Still not convinced? Here’s a list of 50 authors who received repeated rejections, some over a lengthy period of many years, before they went on to become household names.
It puts it all in perspective. If they got rejections too, then I’m in good company. One little rejection – or two, or ten – doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer. What I submitted or queried simply doesn’t meet their needs for an array of possibilities.
Coincidentally – or serendipitously, as I don’t believe in accidents – I received an email this morning from WOW! Women on Writing. The subject was submissions and rejections. It referenced a column by Chelsey Clammer, and contained links to some of her columns:
Submit ‘Til You Make It, What My Submissions Spreadsheet Teaches Me, Hard-Working Writer Seeks Widely-Read Journal, Rejection Acceptance, Find or Fling? Figuring Out Where to Submit, Caring About Cover Letters, and How to Hold Your Horses, Breathe and Proceed, and Writing Contests: You Have Nothing to Lose.
I didn’t go read all of these yet – after all, I have a blog post to write and post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! But I did check out one that intrigued me the most – Rejection Acceptance. Chelsey interviewed author Jac Jemc, who has posted regular blogs since 2008 about her rejections and acceptances. Rejection Collection is a humorous, lighthearted approach to dealing with the downside that exists, whether writing is our career or our hobby.
Jac told Chelsey, “Posting the rejections on the blog really feels like a way of closing the door on the negative responses. Once I make the post, I’ll archive the email or file the letter, and that’s that. I look for a new place to send that story. Keeping the blog has really allowed the progress to become the focus rather than the rejection.”
Now that’s an attitude I endorse.
I may have to borrow her idea and tweak it for my own inspiration. But…hmmm…then I’d have to go back to my spreadsheet and actually count those pesky little critters. We’ll see. But for now, I’m off to read some more posts about how other writers handle rejections – something we all get.
Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.