I’ve read many blog posts by publishing folks about rejection. Rejection is a hot, juicy topic: dealing with it, decoding it, moving on from it, etc. There are whole sites dedicated to rejection. In some ways, rejection and the tally of these missives are a badge of honor to the aspiring writer. I’ve had my fair share. I queried my first book and lost track of the number of “this is not for me” responses. Most of my responses were kind, even the forms, and I had many requests for the manuscript. Rejection on the partial or full manuscript were harder to deal with than just a query, but you slough off the initial sting and keep going. Same thing with short stories. At first, it hurts to get back that rejection on your work. As a young writer there is this fantasy that you will be the exception – you will find an agent right away, your brilliant story will be picked up by the first literary magazine you send it to. The reality is much different.
To be honest though, I have become accustomed to rejection. I open up emails RE: my work and read them expecting the “but…” There is always the nice “thank you for sending STORY NAME” and sometimes a compliment about the work itself. I’ve even sent back a thank you to really nice rejections. I’m probably bothering the poor editor to death, but sometimes I think it important to give that feedback. Thanks for taking the time to give personal feedback.
In the last month I’ve received two welcome doses of acceptance. I’ve found that it feels just as good as I had hoped. First, I’ve been accepted into the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop in Fiction taking place August 7-14. It was a great feeling to get the email letting me know I had made the cut, that I would have this opportunity to meet other writers and hopefully improve my craft.
Last week I received my first short story acceptance. On Monday I received the email and it started out like all the others: the standard, “Thank you for sending your work.” It was the next sentence that caught me off guard – “It’s a powerful story, and I would be glad to publish it.” WHAT?
No one really talks about acceptance. What does it feel like? How does it change where you stand as a writer?
At first I was stunned. I felt the flood of endorphins rush through my body. Relief, elation. But then I wondered: Could this be true? Maybe there has been a terrible mistake? I quickly downloaded the document with the editor’s comments inside. That was my story alright. The comments made sense to me, and there were just a few small things to address. Whew. Relief.
Sort of. Small as the requested changes were, it was something to stress about, to mull over. I took all week tweaking the sentences, eliminating needless words, and trying to make the thing perfect. I received confirmation today that the story is ready to go. It will be published online August 4th. I will make a special post that links to it, don’t worry, so you can see the result of all my hard work.
Acceptance of your work is a great thing. It is an elevating event that functions as a significant confidence builder. It is hard to be a writer and toil in your own words without that interaction with the outside world. It is hard to keep going when you are faced with the doubts about your work – is it good enough? is it improving? Yet, acceptance doesn’t solve these problems. Doubt still lingers, rears its talkative head continuously (particularly for me when I’m knee deep in my third set of revisions for the current novel in progress). I think this is probably true for the most prolific and well published authors.
So, I’m getting used to this new feeling of acceptance and looking forward to more.
Photo credit: jcarwash31. You should really click over to this guy’s photo stream. There are some great images here – some funny, some artistic, but all really interesting. I only hope I can write a blog post that will justify using the zombie eyeball cupcakes at some point.