In the days before the Internet, I used to joke that if I dared to inquire about the “status” of a submission, I’d receive the editor’s rejection in that day’s snail mail. Superstitious? You bet! When the rejections come, (and they still do), I have a little routine that prevents me from jumping off a bridge.
Writing Tip for Today: Rejections hurt. Here’s how I’ve learned to get through them:
- The 24 Hour Rule: Some of you have already heard me mention that if I get bad writing news (or come to think of it, any bad news), I grant myself 24 hours to feel as terrible as I need to. Note that I say “grant myself.” I can be pretty Calvinistic and my upbringing forbids crying like a baby over spilt milk or anything else. And note that I grant myself permission to “feel as TERRIBLE as I need to.” This includes writing but not sending scathing notes to rejectors, wearing a bad monkey face or grouching around, making derisive comments. It does not include kicking kids or cats.
- Break Up the Pity Party. When the 24 hours are over, the next rule states that I shall be responsible for any damage caused by my “guests:” Shame, Envy, Despair and Revenge. When it’s over, it’s over. It does me no good to continue to wallow in it or (horrors!) take my funk out on the fam. There are exceptions: After 9/11 I couldn’t write a word for weeks. When the dog died, I didn’t bounce back. But most times, I’m the party’s only guest and it’s all about me. 24 hours is enough time to lament and tear my sackcloth over a rejected piece of writing.
- Rejected WRITING. The editor or agent didn’t reject me–it only feels that way. I know. When your writing gets the big NO, you feel as if someone has called your baby ugly. I usually have trouble believing that “while the writing is fine, your work doesn’t reflect our current needs.” But something didn’t click. I immediately (well, after the 24 hour pity party) get back to work. Forget trying to paper your walls with rejection slips. Nobody gets those paper ones anymore. Instead, go ahead and cry if you want to. It’s your party. But it only lasts for 24 hours. Then it’s BIC* and ATS*.
*Butt In Chair
*Absolute Top Speed