Rejection in Writing: A Necessary Evil?

Posted: February 15, 2012 in Rejection in writing
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One of the things a beginning novelist must do is send out queries and receive rejections.
It seems my whole life I have always had to face rejection. I have been in sales, real estate, and represented people as a union steward.
I seem to always put myself right square in the middle of rejection. But that is part of life, I guess.
It’s how we respond to rejection that makes us who we are.
As writers, if we avoid it, we don’t do ourselves any favors. As potential authors, if we continue to put our work out there and it is rejected, it does have an overall effect on us.
I remember after sending out queries to many agents , wondering if I was in over my head. I was at Bouchercon in 2005 when I met Jonathan Grant, author of the Lovejoy mysteries, and practically a modern-day Agatha Christie in England.
We talked, and he offered to read my first novel and critique it.
I thought I was on my way. But when I received his letter a few months later, I was devastated. He suggested that I made a lot mistakes common by a first time writer, specifically trying to tell the reader everything that happened during the day.
Of course, I was crushed. I sent my project out only one more time after that.
This was a book, in which I received several personal replies from agents. One agency told me they almost accepted my book, but in the end had to decline.
So why did I quit sending it out? Something inside told me it was not good enough. I was not good enough. I listened to that inner voice because I have heard it many times in my life.
I heard it in my sales jobs, I heard it in real estate, I heard from parents, I heard from friends.
Not that everyone said I wasn’t good enough. Sometimes they gave me a look, sometimes they were sarcastic, sometimes I listened to my own inner voice, critical after so many years of rejection.
Recently, I have been learning to shut my inner critic off. I realize now, that my inner critic was always wrong.
I am good enough. Good enough to get published, good enough to sell many books, good enough to enjoy life.
The only way my inner critic could be right, is if I don’t push through to my passion

We all have a history of stopping short in our lives. “I can’t do this because I don’t have the money. I don’t have the time, It wouldn’t do any good anyway, I will start writing after my kids grow up,” and my favorite, “I’m too tired after working.”
The only way we can truly fail, is if we don’t try in the first place. I can look back of my life and say “Well I tried to write but I never got published. Or I can look back on my life and wish I would’ve tried.
From now on, I will commit that each time I get rejected, I will send out two more query letters.
I also have a list of affirmations that I use daily. My favorite is, “I am doing the best I can with the awareness I have today. Six months from now I will have a different awareness.”
This means I’m good enough today. My work is good enough today. As long as I keep writing, and saying my affirmation, I will do fine.
The rest I turn over to god. He knows better than me.  Do you have any affirmations. I would love to hear them.

PS: I posted this from my phone. Please forgive any typos or misspellings. It all looks different on the small screen.

  1. Martha Miller says:

    Excellent post, Don! It really resonated with me and sounds as if I could write a similar one about the rejections I’ve endured all through my life, from nn older brother who thought I was dumb; a mother who seemed to resent me by the time I was 12, a husband who never thought I did anything right, etc etc.
    I reached the same conclusion you have. We must press on regardless.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Neeks says:

    Well said, turn it over to God. What a great idea too, to send out 2 more queries for each rejection. I’ve only sent work to a couple of places, heard back from one but not another. I’m now writing magazine articles for the one, but haven’t gotten the courage up to send to anyone else. After reading this, I think I’m going to give it a try again.
    If at first you don’t succeed, right?

  3. kelly says:

    Well Don.

  4. Steve Towne says:

    I have been enjoying your insights on writing. I just started writing and have three projects I am working on. I haven’t got the courage to have anyone look at them yet and it will be a while before I am to that point, but it is nice to have someone to follow through the process.


    • Don Weston says:

      What a pleasant surprise. I did not know you were writing. As time goes by, you will become more confident in your writing. It is after all, a craft, more than a talent. I started in a critique group class at Mt. Hood CC by reading my work aloud. It started out with humorous short stories and I progressed to mystery novels. The rule in a critique group is, start by telling what you like. It is very supportive. Suggestions will follow. The idea is to use what makes sense to become a better writer. Also, writing is for you most of all. I always get a kick out of the creative time I spend writing. When I go back and read it, I think, WOW! Did I write that. Good Luck!

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