Today is a great day for me! I just got an email back from one of the UK’s premiere horror publishers about a story I recently submitted for an anthology they are getting ready to publish. Now you might think that I am excited because the have accepted my story, if so, you are wrong. I was rejected. Now you might be saying to yourself, C.W., why would you ever be so excited about rejection? Well, let me tell you, not all rejections are created equal. As a writer, one knows that rejection comes with the territory. A Lot of Rejection! The more you put yourself out there, the more likely the odds that someone, or a lot of someones, are not going to like your stuff. It happens, you get used to it. I could get upset everytime someone says my piece doesn’t work for them, I could shake my fists at the sky and cry out Why don’t they get my unique literary genius! OR, I can take it in stride, use it to grow, and proceed as planned. I submit between 4 and 6 stories per month to different markets, which opens me up for quite a bit of rejection.
I deal with this in a few different ways. First, I send them off expecting a rejection. I know this sounds like an issue of low self-esteem, but on the contrary, I know my stories are good, I just expect that they won’t be quite what the company is looking for, so if they do accept, it’s such a pleasant surprise. Second, I’ve come to accept that these rejections are not saying to me, C.W., your writing is shit and frankly, we feel you are a talentless hack who doesn’t stand a snow ball’s chance in hell of ever making it! No, that’s not what they are saying. They are simply saying that my story isn’t a fit for them, or maybe there were stronger pieces on the table. I am not Stephen King, I have not reached the level of ego to think that I am. I hope I never do. Lastly, I have come to learn, that there are different degrees of rejection letters. There are the standard, generic form letters that everyone gets, I have learned to dismiss these and go about my day without too much disappointment (okay, maybe I shake my fists a little). Then there are personal rejections. These are letters that come directly from the editor, often listing specific strengths and weaknesses in your story, and why it wasn’t chosen. These letters are GOLD to a writer. Not only do they give you an opportunity to grow as an author via the advice of a qualified professional, but they are proof that the person read your story, and saw enough merit in it to respond personally to you. That means you’re close! You got their attention.
Today’s rejection was of the personal sort. Not only did he tell me that he almost included my story, but he personally requested that I please send him another, as he would like to see what else I could do! Close, so very close! I am on cloud nine! I have learned to deal with the rejection (mostly anyway, we all have our weak moments), and it no longer terrifes me. I say bring it, reject me, I will only grow from it! Now the thought of actually succeeding? Making it to the ‘Big Time’? That scares the HELL out of me!