Sunday, March 25, 2012

REJECTIONS: Is it you?

It's not you, it's me.

Ever hear those words in a break-up, or when someone is trying to soften the blow when they tell you something? 

Believe me, it's you.

There is something in you that doesn't resonate with the other person. It can be a personal relationship-What do you mean you don't like me calling you 'squishy butt'?, it can be in business,-so you're saying bootie shorts and thigh-high boots are not professional wear?

This is not about flinging yourself into the abyss of despair--it's about recognizing that if its YOU, that it's not always a bad thing. Not everyone is going to like what you write, what you wear, and what you read. No matter what you do, you won't be able to change that.

Rejection is not always easy to swallow, even if the words are kind, especially in the writing world : Your story didn't resonate--I'm not sure I can represent you adequately....etc. Those are kind. They are not saying things like: You suck--I want to put a fork in my eye when I read this. (can you imagine if you received something like that?-now that would totally throw me over the edge).

What you can control is YOU.

Rejections, while painful, can give you good information. If you get comments like: The characters didn't seem fully developed.  I didn't find the protagonist likable.  Don't curse...or cry. (Yes, chocolate is acceptable). Take a step back and examine it. Who are you targeting? Did you get more than one person say the same thing? Don't change your story with every comment, but what you can do is take some craft classes, talk to your Critique Partners, get a beta reader (that isn't your best friend).  Look at the story with a critical eye.  You know your story. If you're happy with it...keep it, if not, change it. 

Just because it's you--doesn't mean that it's a bad thing, because somewhere out there is someone who likes YOU--and that is worth waiting for.

So keep writing.

What have you discovered about rejections? What is your best advice.


Lisa Dunick said...

I've learned that while it doesn't get any easier, you do get more numb to it :O)
I've also learned that while this is a subjective business, people who are in a place to reject or evaluate tend to have their finger on something when they point out a problem or turn things down.
And I've learned that rejection is imminently survivable.

M.V.Freeman said...

It truly is..and I have found, that humor helps a WHOLE lot. That and a glass of wine, but I've had to keept that to a minimum ;)

Christine said...

Wine numbs all the pain. I just pay myself and move on. Rs are so bizarre. But they are for the material, not a personal slight against me.

But I do have to have a little wine or a lot before I move on and trudge forward.

Great post. Funny, too!

Suzanne Johnson said...

I'm with Lisa--they always are hard, but eventually you get a little more numb to them. In the end you have to trust your gut and your story and figure out what criticism is worth reacting to, and what isn't.

M.V.Freeman said...

Thanks! I have to laugh at how the business is... because well..the alternative isn't pretty.

I like your system of paying yourself. ;)

M.V.Freeman said...


I totally agree with that. I also consider who is reading it and why. For example if a Category agent/editor is reading an Urban Fantasy its never going to work-but its good to know what they like or don't like.

And like you said, trust your gut. ;)

Carla Swafford said...

Good post, Mary. Rejection can FEEL so personal because the manuscript is part of us. BUT you're right. The editor most likely doesn't know you or remember you specifically from the pitch at a conference; and we have to learn to look at it from a business point of view.

Sometimes the manuscript doesn't have anything wrong with it. It's not what they are looking for at this time or they may have just bought something similar. Plus we don't always hear how far up the ladder it went at the publishing house before it was rejected. Sometimes that happens too.

M.V.Freeman said...


That's another aspect as well. Sometimes I think I don't want to know how close something has come--that could be a bit more demoralizing.

Bottom line. Keep writing and damn the torpedos..wait..that's navy...


Lexi said...

There are all kinds of reasons a manuscript gets rejected. If you've done the work on your end, I think they often times have to do with market and/or what a particular agent/editor is looking for at the time. It doesn't make it easier, but it helps take the sting out of it a little. And rejection follows you after publication, both from agents and editors and (shudder) vocal readers who HATE your writing! I give myself a day to sing the I SUCK song and then I move on. What else can you do? You can't let it shut you down, as much as it hurts. What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger! Or something like that.

M.V.Freeman said...


You make me laugh! You're right. If you think about it, there is so much that we don't have any control over. What can we do? Have a moment--than suck it up and drive on. Or write...


Louisa Cornell said...

I think the key to dealing with rejections is to realize we go through phases with them. You know, disbelief, rage, the 'why me?' phase, etc.

Once you work through all of that it is best to look at each one analytically. If there is ANY helpful information in it, tuck it away and see if you get similar information from other rejections. If the rejection resonates with you or if a couple of rejections say the same thing, you probably want to look at it closely.

If it doesn't resonate with you or if only one person says it - ditch it. And I mean, DITCH IT! Bury it. Feed it to your dog. Feed it to a hungry alligator. Sell it in a yard sale. Just get rid of it.

The useful real stuff will do a great job of humbling you. Why keep the useless stuff around as reinforcements.

The acceptance phase means you fix it and move on! Period. Don't consider yourself arrogant if you think "Meh. It's all subjective. I know I can write a great story." This business takes just as much faith as it does love. Faith in yourself, faith in your writing, faith in your ability to continuously hone your craft and learn from others and faith in your stories.

Rashda Khan said...

Wine, chocolate & stubborness -- all of those help :) Great post --wise and funny.

M.V.Freeman said...


That is true--faith above all in your writing and the belief that you can and will is so very, very important.

You are a very wise soul...:)

M.V.Freeman said...


I heartily believe in chocolate and wine--together if its been a bad moment. :)

And thank you...:)

Bobby Mathews said...

I think one of the toughest things, for me, is that I have written for publication on a daily basis for most of my writing career (I was a journalist for about 15 years), but I've never seemed to get over the hump with my fiction. Not yet, anyway.

It's amazingly frustrating, but at the same time, you have to take it as a "strictly business" proposition, and remain professional with editors and agents. (Or at least that's what I keep telling myself!)

M.V.Freeman said...


I completely agree with you about that. For some reason there is something about fiction that really can get to you, because you create everything about it.

But, being professional at all times is the best route. (along with a secret stash of chocolate..but that's just me)

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Katherine Bone said...

Wow! Great post, Mary!

I totally agree with what Lisa and Louisa have to say. Lexi made good points too. The longer I'm in this business, the easier it is to understand this is a business. All we have control over is the writing.

Thanks for being around to pick me up off the pavement, girl!