On Rejection

It’s hard being a writer. Admittedly there are more demanding jobs, like being a nurse – or any other proper job that involes being somewhere and doing something – but there’s no security in this game. Just when you’re patting yourself on the back for crafting a particularly exquisite sentence (come on, we all do it) and your own genius spins before you like a bibulous Lord, something happens to cloud your day.

You open your inbox. Your eyes focus absentmindedly, and yep, uh-oh, it doesn’t look like good news. You thought just because you’re a published writer, you’re immune. It’s a rejection. Remember those?

That poem you sent to such and such three months ago (so long ago you’d actually forgotten about it) now bounces back with a form rejection. Your eyes narrow and you take a closer look. You cringe. Did I really send one of my favourite literary mags that pile of shit? Sweet Jesus. Yes, your embarrassed inner voice shouts, you did.

For a fleeting second you’re almost tempted to write the journal a letter of apology and say you hope they won’t hold it against you in future. You don’t, of course. You’re not mad. Yet. (This is also where a pre-emptive pseudonym comes in handy).

I could say rejection has always scared and paralysed me. Perhaps it has for some people, and that’s a shame, but my attitude to rejection has never really changed: I shrug it off. If it’s for a piece of writing I’m proud of – something I’ve taken a lot of care over – I’m sad. I can’t help it. I know it’s part of a writer’s lot, but it hurts.

But it doesn’t sting for long. There’s so much more to do and improve and tomorrow could be another story. A story with a letter of acceptance. It has been known.

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About Suzy Norman Writes

Suzy is a freelance features writer and novelist. Her novel 'Duff' will be published by Patrician Press in 2015. It was also shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize 2014.
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3 Responses to On Rejection

  1. Joe Pineda says:

    At the same time, it’s soothing to know rejection is not often a sign that your work stings; rather, it just might be that the publisher you’re submitting to can’t find a market for what you do. It’s why it’s important to keep insisting, because if there is indeed no market to sell your work to, nothing stops you from creating it.

  2. We have to learn to drink rejections like wine, Joe.

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