The joy of rejection

Posted: June 15, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

As promised, to balance my heady post on success, here’s the flip side – the heady joy of rejection…

It can be hard to stay motivated as a writer when you’re getting a lot of rejections. My Duotrope account tells me that I’ve got an 8.8% acceptance rate for the last twelve months. That might not sound too bad – heck, I’m happy with it – but it still means that for every acceptance I’ve had ten rejections. That’s a lot of people saying no. And yet, one of the things that most motivates me as a writer is a good rejection.

Good rejections are hard to come by. Most of the rejections I’ve received are form emails. I don’t mean this as a criticism – the editors at most short story markets don’t have the time to make it personal. They’re receiving hundreds of submissions, and mine is just one more in a mountain of things they don’t want.

But just occasionally I get a really good rejection. One that tells me what I did right, and more importantly what I did wrong. Just a couple of brief sentences, but ones that really lift me up. Seeing that someone took the time to have a well developed opinion on my story is great in itself. What’s writing for if not to provoke a response? But the content is important too. Knowing that someone else sees a fragment of value in my story, even as they’re rejecting my work. And, less moral-boosting but far more useful, identifying something that I can improve, both in that story and in my wider writing.

Receiving just a few rejections like that helps me face the rest with a smile, and to keep going. So, to the writers of those rejection notes – in particular the people at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, who have never published a single one of my stories but have given me many pieces of constructive feedback – thank you very much.

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Comments
  1. […] email on a short story, for which I must mention Waylines Magazine, as it was one of the most useful and encouraging rejections I’ve had. Based on their feedback, I started reading through the story, looking for bits to […]

  2. […] morning I received feedback on a story that was being rejected by a magazine. I’d got through to the final round of consideration and it was a lot of very useful […]

  3. […] a 5% acceptance rate, so my average story gets rejected nineteen times before it gets accepted. And a few of those rejections come with useful feedback, which I use for further re-writes. So really, a short story is finished […]

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