Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rejection - What It's Not

Rejection is something that authors either fear, loathe or accept. A decade ago I received a rejection letter from an intern (a fluffy young intern!) who, acting on behalf of an overworked editor, sent me an average form rejection letter. She did, so kindly, include her reason for the rejection. She stated that she didn’t believe character A would let characters B and C do XYZ. Fine, except that THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN! Not in my book. She obviously had not read my manuscript. From that I learned my first lesson in what rejection is not. Rejection is not always deserved.

About a year ago an agent requested the manuscript for a different project and I sent it off at a bit of an expense: paper, ink, mailer, postage. Though it was returned with plenty of positive notes, flowery adjectives and uplifting comments, the project was still rejected. The agent (he) just couldn’t connect with an eighteen year old girl . . . Rejection is not always criticism.

Rejection is not always denunciation, either, or dismissal or even elimination. I’m still in the game, aren’t I? Rejection is the first, and necessary, step to gaining recognition and approval. If I don’t learn from rejection I’ll never get to the goal. Did I learn from that first intern’s rejection? Absolutely. What she claimed was an unbelievable plot set-up, even though I didn’t do it, I mentally filed away as something to avoid when creating situations for my characters.

I used to tell my students that mistakes are good; you learn more from mistakes; if you make them on the practice test then you won’t make them on the real test. Same for rejection. Maybe if one gets rejected a lot one will learn how not to get rejected.

Next month I’ll be sending out a new project and entering a contest, hopefully not to be rejected.