Well, it sucks. Any questions?
To be more specific, I’m talking about the kind of rejection that is yours for the collecting if you do anything creative. My main experience is with writing, but I’ve gotten a solid impression from my friends who do other artistic things that if you want to create, and sell what you create, you have to be prepared to down a healthy bowl full of “no” salad every day.
I’m mostly thinking about this today because I sweated blood for six hours editing a story, which was subsequently rejected in less than twelve hours.
These are the times I go out for a margarita. Or in the case of tonight, thanks to a mysterious stomach bug that’s decided to make my life difficult, I stare glumly into my package of animal crackers.
The constant rejection never feels good. It’s not supposed to. You’re sending your story out there because (I should hope) you believe in it and think it deserves to be received by the cheering masses. Having an editor tell you no can sometimes feel very painful because it feels personal. That story’s a little bit of you.
It’s really not personal. I don’t think I could ever handle being an editor; they have the toughest job in the world. While I’m sure the slush pile is pretty hefty in stories that don’t meet standards, it sounds like they still get more good pieces than they could ever hope to publish. I’d drive myself to a nervous breakdown trying to make those decisions.
So it hurts. You have to just dust yourself off, eat your animal crackers, and keep going. And if you still believe in your story, you have to keep fighting for it.
Don’t let fear of rejection stop you from trying. You will eventually build up your rejection callouses, even if you still see those e-mails pile up and think Oof, I need that beer now. I’ve filled an entire bulldog clip with rejections and I’m well over halfway into my second. The sting never quite goes away, but you get stronger for it.
Rejections are like sweat. That’s what effort looks like, baby. It means I’m trying. I’m working hard. I’ve developed a weird, potentially unhealthy relationship with my rejection notices, where if I haven’t gotten one for a while I start feeling somehow less real, like I need the validation that I still exist as a writer. It keeps me playing story pingpong, sending them out as soon as they come back.
Because ultimately, even the biggest no sundae in the world still has a cherry on top.