I wasn’t lying about the cookies. Chocolate and mac n cheese really are my comfort foods…and marshmallows…and mashed potatoes…and ice cream…mmm…anyway… After I’ve stuffed myself full of these “comfort foods,” I usually just feel huge. Then I have to try to actually deal with the rejection. There were two great comments this week about dealing with rejection.
If it’s a form rejection, I put it away and move on.
If it’s more personal, I am happy that someone took some time for me.
In addition to sharing some humorous things she has known people to do with rejection letters (i.e. Halloween costume), Mary also shared some great advice about what to do next:
If it is a more personal rejection letter, consider calling and following up with the publisher — not so much to ask “WHY won’t you publish this?” but to ask if you can set up an informational interview. During this informational interview, ask about their organization and get the inside scoop. It takes a lot of heart, but think about it this way: people who turn down your work really didn’t want to. They WANT to help. They WANT to encourage good writing. If they can’t publish your piece, there are other things they can (and will) do to support you. Doing an informational interview with someone who declined your work can be an enormous help. You might find you have an issue that can quickly be fixed (maybe you sent the work to the publisher with a page missing or with pages out of order — I don’t know). Or maybe you find you have an issue that isn’t solvable: maybe that particular publisher is stuck in a rut and is only accepting vampire books for the preschool set or something. At the end of a (10 minute long but seemingly longer) interview, you could ask if the publisher can think of another publishing house that might be more open to your work — and then you’ll have a name to drop as in “Dear Other Publisher: So and So Publisher recommended I submit my story “Insert Catchy Title Here” to you.
I haven’t tried Mary’s advice. If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.
I’m afraid I haven’t found my sense of humor when dealing with rejection letters like Mary’s friends. I also can’t just put them away like aneducationinbooks. Here is my process for dealing with rejection:
Step 1: Cry if I have to.
I know, it doesn’t sound very pleasant, but sometimes it is necessary. Especially if I’m in denial and am still in the “there is nothing wrong with this manuscript” phase. I try not to let anything out of the house when it is still in this phase, but some manuscripts are sneaky.
Step 2: Talk to someone.
And that someone is different for different rejections. If I’m suffering from the denial described in Step 1, I’m going to e-mail a writer’s group friend who will tell me that I’m wonderful. If I’m upset that the manuscript was rejected, but realize it needs work, I’m going to talk to someone who will tell me that they did see a problem with page such and such.
Step 3: Read my book of quotes.
Last Christmas, my sister made me a beautiful book (you can see some of her other work here) and filled it with inspirational writing quotes and interviews with published authors. She even left space so I could add more quotes that I come across. Some are beautiful and poetic like:
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” William Wordsworth
While others are little rough but very realistic like:
“I’m going to finish this explitive-deleted book no matter what.” Gail Carson Levine
The combination reminds me of everyone’s unique writing voice.
Step 4: Write something new.
Write. Anything. New. Now is not the time for me to revise my middle grade chapter book or revisit the picture book I’ve been stuck on or especially write a cover letter to another publisher. Even if it is just a journal entry, it is the time to write something new. It helps me face the fears brought up by the rejection letter. Especially the fear that my writing might not be good enough.
Dealing with rejection is a process. Sometimes I have to repeat steps three and four a couple of times before I’m over it and ready to move on. Sometimes I skip right to step four and write a great new picture book. No matter how I’m dealing with it, it helps to think that there are writers getting published every day. Why can’t it be me?