Sunday, April 5, 2009

Another Entry about Rejections

Okay, down the rejection road one more time. Here’s the thing: rejections are an inevitable part of being a writer. I think because of my recent graduate school rejections I’ve been extra sensitive to rejections in general recently and I began to really question the worth of my writing. It couldn’t have come at a worse time because it was right before I had to turn in my thesis and prepare for my defense. I started to think, wait a minute, this book isn’t even any good, how the hell am I going to defend it?

Well I got a rejection a couple of days ago that made me feel a lot better, helped me put it all back in perspective. It was from a paying journal with a higher circulation than I’ve yet to be published in and the editor told me that my story was very good, that this was excellent writing, and that I should know that it made it very far along in the editorial process. She said that “as always, with such “rejections,” it’s important to remember that this is not a judgment about your writing.” This was a really similar response to what I got last summer from that agent who requested to read the manuscript of my children’s book and then ended up deciding not to represent me. A clear statement that they liked my writing, and that I shouldn’t consider the rejection as any kind of statement whatsoever about the work itself or my skills as a writer – it has to do, instead, with a number of variables that I have no control over. It as, after all, a business, and market trends, current supply/demand situations, etc. all play a role in what gets published and what doesn’t.

I can look at my stuff and say that I like my writing much better now than a year ago, or a year before that, or a year before that, and that should really be what I’m focused on. No, I’m not “there” yet, wherever “there” is. But I’m changing in a way that I consider improvement and as long as I keep at it, I’m sure this will continue to be true. And that matters much more than whether any individual story gets published by any individual journal.

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