Friday, June 11, 2010

Bobblehead: Reacting To Rejection


It's an ugly word. Anger, sorrow, frustration, abandonment, loss, and discouragement are all conveyed by rejection. It's probably one of the most difficult things anyone can face.

And it's a non-stop part of a writer's life.

I've been getting a lot of rejections lately. In my personal life they've been coming thick and fast, but more importantly, I'm being rejected in my writing life.

This summer is the first time I'm actively pursuing publication. I've been playing around with it since 2007, but this year I've turned my hard-headed stubborn persistence to GetPublishedOrDieTrying. Two of my novels are sitting on editor's desks, waiting for the final verdict. The third (last year's NaNo novel SS-5) I've been sending out to agents since early April. I've probably sent it to close to 30 agents so far. Most have gotten back to me within a week with politely worded rejections, some form, some personal. I've gotten to the end of my list of “probabilities”. I'm mopping up the “possibilities” and, gritting my teeth, now moving into the “you've-got-to-be-crazy-to-think-they'll-accept-it” bracket.

Am I discouraged? You better believe it.

Am I giving up? Not on your life.

Writers are suckers for punishment. They have the toughest skins on the planet – it's a survival thing. I watched a kid playing with a bobblehead doll the other day, and suddenly the image of a writer came to mind: the kid's poking finger was the rejections, and the doll who (stupidly, stubbornly, without fail) bobbed back up to take more punishment was the writer. I ended up doubled over laughing, clutching my purse, making futile, laughter-limp gestures, to the consternation of store employees. (try to explain a metaphor like THAT to a Wal-Mart clerk)

So no, I'm not giving up. Neither are the multitude of fellow writers close to me who have been handed out some pretty crushing rejections these past few months. Yet a couple of them have come to me, exhausted and frustrated, wondering if there's really a good reason for pushing on. Maybe there's something wrong with the novel. Maybe it really sucks. Maybe it will never get published. I might as well not send it out anymore.

I wince every time I hear it, because it echoes my thoughts so perfectly. The truth, though, is that it's a terrible time for novelists. What with the economy and the growing commercialism of the publishing industry, it's incredibly hard for new writers to break in. But it's not a reason to give up. I've a few friends who consistently remind me that the right person for my novels is out there. I just have to find them.

And that's what it comes down to. Don't give up. Don't let the rejections stop you from sending out your novel (or short story, or poem, or article) again and again and again. If your work sits at home, buried in some dusty drawer or cobwebby corner of cyberspace, it's 100% sure that no one will accept it. If it's out there, knocking on doors, there's a chance.

So that's where I stand. I'm the bobble-head doll who, after getting hit with three rejections before breakfast, turns right around and sends out five new queries before lunch. It helps, in a bizarre way. Maybe it's all about faith. Maybe it's believing enough in your dreams and your writing to keep throwing it out there.

Whatever the case, I do have faith that sooner or later, it'll all be worth it and my manuscript will land on the right person's desk, at the right time of day, with the right weather outside and the right cup of coffee nearby and... you get the picture. :)

Don't give up. Don't get discouraged. Somewhere out there the right person (and the right desk, and the right time of day, etc) is waiting. You just have to find them.


How do you deal with rejection? Share all the crazy ways you cope with this hard aspect of a writer's life. Have you gotten a particularly crushing rejection lately? Go ahead and vent. Or perhaps you've gotten some really good news! Share the encouragement!


Joy Tamsin David said...

I haven't dealt with rejection yet because I haven't put myself out there yet. Kudos to you for getting to the point where you're submitting. Lots of writers don't even get that far.

I hope you find your right person sitting at the right desk on the right day. :)

Nina Hansen said...

Thanks, Joy! I wish you Godspeed as you move into the publishing world!

Caitlin said...

I think it's more than a coincidence that you're blogging about too much rejection, while I'm blogging about NOT ENOUGH rejection! :D It must be fate that we're blog buddies!

I'm really glad you can be so positive about it all, keep that attitude, because I know it'll get you far. All it takes is one yes :)

Nina Hansen said...

LOL Caitlin! Now I have to go read your post. Thanks for the encouragement!

Kate said...

Awesome post, Nina!

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