The Write Path: What to do with Rejection
What do Jack London, Danielle Steele, Stephen King and Jan Karon all have in common? Rejections. A pile of them. However, it’s unfortunately a rite of passage for most writers. Once in a while, a new writer queries the right manuscript at the right time with the right editor and their illustrious career is launched.
To the rest of us, rejection may come like an unrelenting attack of orcs with battering rams at the front door of the fort. Or so it seems. Not really, but it may feel like it at the time. Rejection comes to us as form letters, less than thoughtful commentary from contest judges, the busy critique partner that forgets to also tell you what she loves about your writing and why you need to keep trying . . . and on and on it goes.
Once new writer euphoria subsides, the inner editor usually moves in and criticizes us more harshly than anyone else. This is what every writer needs to overcome, at some point in their career—the voice of the accuser. Rejections and critiquing help thicken our skin, so we can develop calluses and take the next step on a difficult journey. I admit, there have been those times when some form of rejection has pushed me into a chocolate-eating stupor for several days, convinced that I should shred most of my novel, but the Christian writer shouldn't stay in the muck of discouragement.
Sure, when we send out a query, a proposal or a full manuscript, it’s kind of like showing off one our children. If someone says the child is ugly, dresses funny and isn’t very smart, we take it personally. Perhaps we need to hear, instead, that the child would look better in a different color or they need work on their math skills.
We need to acknowledge our hurt or disappointment when someone rejects or criticizes our writing. Use it to make us better, not bitter. It’s an opportunity to make a new goal, overcome weak areas in our writing. When an editor, critique partner or beta reader comments that our main character needs more work to become likeable, we shouldn’t think my characterization is a total failure, but instead how can I make my character more sympathetic?
Rejection can help us to grow. Like the orcs trying to break into the fort, rejections help us to find our weak areas and fortify them, to overcome and become stronger writers, with the Lord’s help.
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