Kicking Rejection To The Curb

Rejection signAs many writers do, I keep a lot of files. I’ve got files for book research, subdivided into time periods (Medieval, Elizabethan, earth 19th C., etc.), files for blogging ideas, files for book ideas, blogging research, publicity, conference information, and on and on. I’ve also (happily!) got a couple files for book contracts.

This plethora of paper just shouldn’t be so in our digital age, but I’ve been slow to scan so my file drawers are bulging. So much so, in fact, that my husband starting hinting about how nice it would be if I would go through my “stuff” to see if I actually need all of it. (To help me be clear on what he wanted, he accompanied his “hints” with annoyed sighs whenever he opened his file drawer and saw it bursting with my files. He’s good that way. :-))

So last night I got down to business trying to figure out what exactly I did have in there that was taking up so much room. There was one file in particular, packed to the gills and over three inches thick. This much be important I muttered to myself as I heaved it out of the drawer. I opened to the first item, a letter. “Dear Author, We thank you for submitting your manuscript but it’s not the right fit for us. Good luck placing it elsewhere.”

Cripes, what was I saving that for? I turned to the next item, a postcard. “Dear Author, We thank you for submitting your manuscript but it’s not the right fit for us. Good luck placing it elsewhere.” There were more letters. More postcards. Lots of them, hundreds of them, all with essentially the same message: We’re rejecting this manuscript.

Again the question: why in the world was I saving this? Many of the rejections were for a book I did eventually end up getting published. Many, but not all. I have lots of manuscripts that still haven’t found homes, and lots of rejections from authors and agents who don’t want them. I also came across a contract I had gotten from a very reputable agency to represent a manuscript that remains, to this day, unsold. The relationship with that agency unfortunately didn’t work out. So why am I saving these often very painful reminders of the tough world of publishing?

Perhaps my thinking was: I’ll show them. One day these manuscripts will get published and then I’ll flaunt these cold rejections, waving them in the air like a victory flag over the evil agents and editors who said it was no good! (Insert evil scientist laughter).

Or maybe I thought they’d make me stronger. See I could tell myself. Look at all of these rejections. You could wallpaper a ballroom with them but you haven’t let them get you down. You persevered and eventually got published.

Truth is, though, I have let them get to me. Each reject has taken me down a peg and caused me to have to lick my wounds, take a breath and regroup, vowing to go on. I’ve felt no infusion of willpower from the letters. They haven’t branded vows of revenge on my heart. And once I got published, I felt no sense of satisfaction or “I told you so” from reviewing these letters.

The thing about writing is that of course we want to get published. It’s the shiny gold star at the end of an arduous journey. But I don’t know any author who writes solely to get published. We write because we love writing The sense of victory and satisfaction and pride come from planting an idea in our minds, letting it germinate, and then giving it root on the page. If we get published then yea! Good for us. But for me a pile of rejection letters serves no purpose other than to make me momentarily depressed.

But what cures that depression? A big hungry shredder, which is exactly where those rejection letters are now. I feel so much better. 🙂

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  • elfahearn
    August 14, 2013 at 1:29 am

    You rock, Peachy! There is no reason in the world to hold onto the unhappy stuff. Dwell on the goods. I’ve actually opened a file on my computer titled “compliments.” Whenever I need a boost, I go in there and read all kinds of good things about myself. It’s nice to reconnect with my accomplishments every once in a while.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      August 14, 2013 at 9:07 am

      What an awesome idea, Doll! I’m going to start a “compliments” file, too. I’ll give myself a virtual pat on the back. We all need that once in awhile, right?

    • madelineiva
      August 14, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      I am so starting a file like that Elf!

  • cpmandara
    August 14, 2013 at 3:41 am

    For every book that’s submitted – it’s a ridiculous number – but something like only 1% of them actually make it to print. So if you’ve managed to acheive that or are even working to achieve that, you’re doing pretty damn well. As for the rejection letters – you’re filing them in the right place 😉

    • Elizabeth Shore
      August 14, 2013 at 9:10 am

      Yeah, finally getting published is a wonderful feeling, and I don’t need rejection letters piling up to make it seem that much sweeter. It’s good on its own. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Christina. And by the way, your picture is the bomb! So sexy, I love it!

    • madelineiva
      August 14, 2013 at 9:40 pm

      I agree, that’s a hot website you have there, Ms. pony girl. ;>

      • cpmandara
        August 15, 2013 at 3:20 am

        Thank you! I’m new about town, but I’ve got lots of wonderful inspiration around here 😉

  • kathrynkjohnson
    August 14, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Good for you! What do these editors know anyway? And now you’ve reminded me that my shredder died and I need a new one. Really NEED it. Maybe it would be just as therapeutic to print up the electronic rejections…then shred them!

    • Elizabeth Shore
      August 14, 2013 at 9:26 am

      I say go for it! It’s quite fabulous seeing the shredder’s hungry teeth chomping away on those rejections, turning them into little more than confetti. It would be a great way to break in your new shredder when you get it. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Kathryn!

  • cmkempe
    August 14, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I used to save them too,;now (yep, still get them now) I just swear, discard and submit it somewhere else.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      August 14, 2013 at 11:39 am

      Ha! I like that approach. In my case it may include *lots* of swearing, but I’ll do it in private.

  • LizEverly
    August 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Over the years, I’ve pitched most of mine very soon after I’ve gotten them. I’ve kept a few that were very detailed and helpful. Like I have one from my current editor–who rejected my first romance. He loved it, but could not get the board behind it. The letter is wonderfully instructive, not just about the manuscript, but about how the business works. Great post, Elizabeth!

    • Elizabeth Shore
      August 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      That one I’d keep, too. Words of wisdom from an editor can be worth their weight in gold. But the form letter rejects I’d been hanging on to . . . nah. Not so much.


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