Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dear Sucky Writer: I Hate You and Your Sucky Sucky Words.

No love for you bad writer!



I've heard that some writers hang their rejection letters on the wall.



After I received my first rejection letter, I opened up a file in my email inbox and titled it, "Rejection Letters." I decided I would put all of my rejection emails there and keep them as a matter of pride. You know, a testament to how many times I put myself out there and how plucky I was to keep on trying to get published.

I'm not gonna lie. The first rejection letter stung quite a bit. It still stings. I'm not happy about it at all. I don't really have anything optimistic or philosophic to say about it other than it sucks and it still makes me mad. And no, I have no intention of ever submitting anything to those people again.

*Sticks out tongue*

As you can see, I've decided to opt for the mature route to handling rejection.

And then today, I received my second rejection letter. It read:


"Thank you for sending us  your story. We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, the piece is not for us. We wish you the best on placing this elsewhere."



Ouch.

If that isn't curt, I don't know what is. But there it is: Rejection #2. Let us behold it in all its glory. I do have to say, however, that rejection is a little bit easier the second time around. Maybe as I fill up my Rejection Folder, I'll get more and more immune to it all. Maybe it will sting less? Perhaps I'll just immediately re-submit the rejected piece to another journal. Some day I will be bad ass like that, I just know it.

But not today.

Today it sucks. I'm not going to lie or sugarcoat this. It feels just like I feared it would. I've avoided putting myself out there in the literary world because I feared just this thing. I feared discovering that I do not have the talent. I am not good. And I feel embarrassed that I even submitted anything at all.


It's just like Middle School all over again. Only I have a car and better clothes.



I'll be fine. I've got other pieces out there. I click on my email inbox every day, hoping to see a response from one of the other literary journals. I'll keep doing it. But maybe I'll get a thicker skin as I fill up the rejection folder. Maybe Rejection Letter #3 will bum me out even less than #2?

The trick is to keep trying, I suspect. To not give up. Though the voice of doubt still whispers in my head, "Oh who do you think you're kidding? You're not good enough. You don't belong. You're just a loser."

Loser. Loser. Loser.

The taunts from my childhood still echo in my head.

But I'll shake them off. That's what grownups do. Especially grownups in therapy.


What's the point if you don't pick yourself up and start all over again?



And I will pick myself up again and be little Miss Optimistic again.

I swear I will. But maybe not just yet.

I hope I don't lose faith in myself. Maybe someone will like my writing some day? Maybe someone will connect with my stories and want to share it with other people? I know too many good writers who gave up after being rejected and I can't be that person. It's not the person I've worked so hard to be.

I don't want to end my life with feelings of, "If only …"

But trying and failing does kinda suck. I'm here to put that reality out there. And all the motivational/inspirational mumbo jumbo doesn't always own up to the fact that sometimes rejection hurts and is going to go on hurting for a while.

So I'm here to say: REJECTION SUCKS, ASSHOLES.

God damn, I wish I had an Etsy shop. I'd slap that motto on a coffee cup.

*Flips off everyone in a 360-degree radius*


40 comments:

  1. Yup. I tell myself that it happens to everyone, but that doesn't really tame the sting of every damn rejection. It's hard being "a creative" and remembering that your stuff isn't for everyone, that someone's opinion isn't necessarily a judgement of your work. Sigh...I try and remember that, but damn. I would love to catch a break.

    Hang in there, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not easy to keep putting yourself out there and keep getting rejected. I'm amazed by the tales of people who keep after it year after year. That's some resilience!

      Delete
  2. Just remind yourself that the car and better clothes you mentioned are almost certainly nicer than those of the person sending the rejection note.

    Also: to state the obvious, you're not a loser. You just haven't succeeded at this yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha. I do feel better now. Even my watch is awesome!

      Delete
  3. I love your words. Please keep writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course I will. I wouldn't let one rejection stop me. I'm just pissed.

      ;-)

      And thank you.

      Delete
  4. Middle School Mandy is a GD liar. What Mo said. Don't listen to that little liar. I love your writing. I get excited when I see a new post from you. Every single time there's something relatable in there for ME to connect to and you always manage to make me laugh. DON'T GIVE UP!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I won't give up. I'm way too stubborn at this point.

      And thanks for your nice words. I like them.

      Delete
  5. Can I stick out my tongue with you? I firmly believe that anyone who rejects you is truly a stupid and horrible person/entity, (and I'm not biased at all.) You are wonderful. Your words bring happiness, laughter and make people think. Don't stop!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love this: "*Flips off everyone in a 360-degree radius*" - yes, yes, yes!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yea, I know the feeling. I take it personally too. The one that hurt the worst is where they asked me to submit something, and then they rejected it. I felt like I fell flat on my face. And now mentioning it again, I want to go crawl in a hole...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. It doesn't feel good. And sometimes that's just how it is. Feels good to say it out loud.

      And here's to both of us getting some nice acceptance letters in the near future.

      SIGH.

      Delete
  8. Curt? Out of the 75 or so rejections over the course of two novels, I would say 5-10 of them were handwritten on my own query letter. Yes, like the snail mail kind. One agent simply scrawled "Nope."

    Hang in there.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My rejection letters are pretty funny. My favorite was from a travel writer, after I sent him something on my trip to Costa Rica... "It all comes down to quality for us. Have you thought of a writing course? I would advise work on the thread, the narrative, and the development of your arc." Still remains my favorite. (in other words, YOUR WHOLE FUCKING PIECE SUCKED)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NO WAY!

      This is so eye-opening. And yes, you are totally making me feel better.

      Delete
  10. I'm sure you can get that made into a mug. Even if it is only at one of those little kiosks at the mall. See- you're back on top again! They would make great gifts too.

    It wasn't for them. So what. Do you have to like everything life hands you? I didn't and don't think so. It's ok. Someone else will pick it up and say WOW! She's really got something here. And when things start rolling, you can go back and pull a Julia Roberts line from Pretty Woman on them. "Big mistake. BIG Mistake. HUGE!" and walk away.

    Or you can take the high road and just know you made a better decision to go with the one who loves your work as it is. It is still their loss and No they can't say "We knew her when..." Screw them. They don't get to have that. It will be your pleasure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah. Wasn't for them. I know, I know.

      I would take publication on a mug in a kiosk right about now.

      Just got Rejection Email #3.

      Delete
  11. Oh, for pity's sake, this post is SO FREAKING ACCURATE, it's not even funny. Rejection doesn't just suck. It sucks like an F5 tornado making a mid-afternoon snack out of a small Kansas town.

    Hang in there. <3 <3 <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha. I just got Rejection #3 and it does indeed feel like a tornado.

      DAMMIT!

      Delete
  12. 1. I love your blog.
    2. Rejection does suck.

    Still, if you look at it another way, a rejection from a journal has a big asterisk beside it. What I mean is, no matter how good your story may be, a journal's rejection is ultimately a kind of business decision rather than an objective reflection on your story.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your Etsy store closing just made me laugh. Katherine Stockett - the woman who wrote "The Help" - got rejected something like 67 times before selling her manuscript. And look where that went. Would you ever self publish if you got tired of submitting to people?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't even gotten that far along to even consider it. Right now I'm just trying to get some short essays published, not the whole manuscript.

      And I didn't know that about the woman who wrote The Help. That is helpful.

      Heh.

      Delete
  14. I just watched a documentary on Pixar which I liked... John Lasseter said something that made me laugh. "At some point in the process of making every one of our movies, they were the worst movies ever made." I'm sure that's not true... but even they who have created such tight polished stories felt that insecurity. The trick is to keep polishing and keep working and ignore those who say no without becoming bitter and angry, like me.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've gotten quite a few rejection letters. They aren't fun, but you get used to them. I like when they tell me that I'm on to something, but unfortunately I'm just not for them. It reminds me that these journals have to make names for themselves and create identities, too. It's not simply about good versus bad. It's hard work for writers to figure out which voices fit which journals. But ultimately what should be important isn't changing your voice to sound like who so-and-so wants, but finding that journal who wants you. Someone will, of course. We all do!

    ReplyDelete
  16. At least you have better clothes. I shop at Old Navy. *meaningful look re: my lameness*

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think the thing that bums me out the most about rejection is that it took me almost SIX YEARS to get the courage to start submitting stuff after the first brutal round of rejections. Six years of feeling like an incompetent loser.

    Which I am not. And which you are not. You've got this. It's going to happen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Six years is quite a K.O. Glad you're getting out there again.

      It'll happen eventually. I'm too stubborn to quit at this point.

      Delete
  18. I have a file in my email titled "Nope". And it has about a dozen rejection emails. The first few made me gnash my teeth and yell and yes, a few tears were shed. In fact, for the past couple of months I've been holed up in a den of insecurity and woe and "my writing sucks". I think those of us who put out such personal pieces of writing can never really get a thick enough skin for this process. We just have to learn how to compartmentalize it.

    I'll let you know if I ever find out exactly how to do that. In the meantime, know that you have a bunch of sensitive-types flipping the bird with you. And I just know you'll go far, girl. You write real good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the simplicity of "Nope."

      I suppose if we got too immune to criticism, we wouldn't have the sensitivity to write with any humanity.

      SIGH.

      Delete
  19. Since my existence is rooted in pop music, I of course view your rejections through that lens. And you should know noneother than the Beatles (the Beatles!) were rejected nearly a dozen times. EMI finally picked them up so they could tell their shareholders they had a "pop" group on their roster.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Been there done that. Worse yet my little stories were to the for free from a reader category....:(

    ReplyDelete
  21. I totally agree with you that it does suck. However, it's only 1, or 2 or 10, but that doesn't mean it's the end of your writing, nor does it mean that you are not on the right track. At least you have something out there and sending stuff out. Many of us have held stuff back for fear of ... rejection and whatever else. You've got some heavier balls and you'll grow a thicker layer around them as you keep going until it happens.

    Sorry for the visual.

    ReplyDelete
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  23. Hi Mandy,
    I do not know why your work is rejected. The one rejection letter is
    almost saying...we should publish your article, as this reader
    enjoyed it but, my boss picked another...because he does not
    know great writing from OK writing and he or she likes George
    Bush. I remember when a newspaper in China asked to publish
    some of your works. That newspaper was not spinning a wheel
    to see won and is now included as a columnist...of all the
    millions of blogs they wanted yours. Please continue to write,
    you have a wonderful way with words but even more,
    you see life through a beautiful mind.
    Sincerely,
    Richard O.usa

    ReplyDelete
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