Saturday, 18 June 2011

Those Rejection Blues

One of my short stories didn’t make it in a competition recently, and all it seems to take is one teensy weeny rejection for me to think everything I write is utter crap. Writing is such a strange thing – there are no laurels on which to rest; you are only as good as the last thing you wrote, and if that was rejected then forget past success – everything in the entire world is rubbish.

Rejection reverts me into my sulky teenage self – I want to paint the walls black and listen to Pink Floyd.

When I’m in this mood, I am desperate for distractions. I tweet; I youtube old music videos; I research into the tiniest thing; I read. And then when I have nothing written, it is not ‘my’ fault that I didn’t write – it was the distractions what did it! They are to blame, those pesky shiny things just a click away, not me. It’s funny how the subconscious works.

The worst thing about rejection is how everything crashes down, the fragile house of cards that I seem to construct around each story, and then reality whacks me in the face with a soggy slipper. Everything in my life suddenly seems crystal clear, and not in a good way. It paves the way for the inner critic, the Aunt Aggie’s of the world, and hands them a free license and a mega-phone. For a few days I listen in stupefied silence – yes, I can’t write; no, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life; yes, I agree that’s rubbish; no, I don’t have a clue how I’m going to change things. The inner critic will take this chance to have a pop about everything – not just my writing, but the way I look, what I wear – it’s a sort of horribly gleeful internal scourging that is as painful as it sounds.

But then I’ll wake up and look at the world outside the window, the sun and the trees, and think, oh well. That was yesterday. Today is brand new. Anything can happen. And so my first card will be erected, and then another and another, and eventually I’ll have a new house of cards, and a new bit of writing.

Remind me next time to use superglue!

22 comments:

BRIDGET said...

A student in my creative writing class last week came up with the best definition of writing competitions I've ever heard -- they are POSH BINGO. Hope that helps...so your numbers didn't come up. It's no reflection on the quality of the card. (Think I will stop there. This extended metaphor is getting out of hand.)

Sarah said...

Oh, I'm right there with you, so I totally get this. Small successes make us happy, but they are so easy to forget in the face of rejection. That's why writing/publication is such a rollercoaster (for me, at least). I guess we have to remind each other of that stuff in case one of us runs out of superglue ... or develops selective amnesia!

Alex G said...

Love the Posh Bingo analogy. I think it can take a day. You're entitled to day of wallow. I had a wallow day last week after a stinging rejection - the manner of it, more than anything - and it took 24 hours to go. Something I've found helpful in the past is to remember that acceptances wouldn't feel quite so good if rejections didn't exist. Did writing your blog post help?

Old Kitty said...

Oh Jayne!!!! If you didn't paint your walls black, crawl under a rock, listen to Soft Cell infinitum and dye your hair bright red after a rejection then I'd say you weren't normal or not passionate enough or not writerly enough! :-) Writers feel deeply and profoundly. They are sensitive souls, their skins are not thick, their hearts are fragile, whatever they say!

It's how and when you pick yourself up, dust yourself down, start all over again, that shows true writerly courage. Persistence, perseverance, patience. Or Look No Nails. :-) Well done you!!! Take care
x

The Las Vegas Writer said...

I know how you feel. Rejection never seemed to bother me until my fourth round of queries on the book I have out right now. The major problem was that I WAS working on something else, and realized I had to rewrite the entire book. The day I realized this, I was sent two rejection letters. It was a bad day. So I took a break from the revisions and promised myself to keep submitting the queries.

Emily Rittel-King said...

Those of us who accept rejections and bring them into our hearts, if only for a time, are those who feel the rejection overwhelmed by our love of writing; and soon, the sting of rejection fades and we're back doing what we love. Good for you for continuing to write. You must love to write very much!

Out on the prairie said...

I send out my best and get a form letter with the worst. I laugh when I have something I feel is useful and then never send it off.Perhaps it will be good another day. LOL

Happy Frog and I said...

I completely understand where you are coming from in terms of going into a bit of a funk when you first get rejected but then getting on with things the next day. Keep doing what your doing. I can tell from your blog that you don't have to worry about your writing. x

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Keep bouncing back. It's the ones who do that who finally get where they want to go. Just reading your posts makes me know what a good writer you are.

Eliza said...

Good for your for not allowing rejection to get you down for too long. That inner critic is a pain in the ass when she gets going, well mine is anyway.

snafu said...

Never give up and listen to Pink Floyde anyway. I had a friend who earned a steady living because he sent everything with an SAE and if it was returned he then sent it off the next publisher and then the next and so on. If it was not accepted by any of them, he kept it in a pile under his bed and a year or so later added it back into the pile of manuscripts he was still trying to get published. He had very few that never got published at all.

Maria Zannini said...

The one good thing about rejection is that it makes the acceptances that much sweeter.

Besides, now you have a perfectly good (finished) story to sub somewhere else.

The Tame Lion said...

It's okay, take it easy.
The lesson is always in the struggle, not in the victory. Besides, remember this: All of us are always here to support you.

K.M. Weiland said...

Sorry about the rejection, but keep hanging in there! It's so hard for us, as artists, not to let our self-worth hang on the opinions of others. We have to keep reminding ourselves that others' opinions are just that - opinions. Just as we don't like every book we read, movie we watch, or song we hear, not everyone is going to love what we write. But if *we* love it, we can be assured we won't be the only ones.

S.P. Bowers said...

I wonder why it is so easy for us to believe the rejections, yet let any praise come our way and we instantly discount it. I guess that's how humans are. Sorry about the hard days, though I'm glad to know I'm not the only one.

Miss Good on Paper said...

I also had a few rejections recently (one contest and one standard submission). It can certainly sting. But I also had a lot of other things going on so I couldn't dwell for too long. That's usually how I cope--I get busy with something else.

And sometimes I still listen to Pink Floyd, too. =)

-Miss GOP
www.thewritingapprentice.com

Marian Allen said...

Rejection! Bah! Bah!

Lawrence Block has a great affirmation that really helps: "Rejection makes me strong."

When I get a rejection now, I cry a little bit, then I look at the envelope and say, "Oh, you poor sap, you are going to hire somebody to slap you someday because you turned this down." ha!

I also do "the bejection dance."

Marian Allen

Maggie May said...

I have read many biographies of famous writers and it seems they got dozens & dozens of rejection slips before coming to fame. That must surely give you the incentive to go on? Better luck next time.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Deniz Bevan said...

Hugs to you {{}} Not only rejection but sometimes my own inner editor gets me thinking that everything I do is crap! Luckily my characters and the story itself keep pushing me to write, otherwise, who knows how long ago I might have given up?

broken biro said...

I LOVE the 'posh bingo' definition! But it isn't even about luck - after you've got the nuts and bolts of it right, writing is such a subjective thing and each judge or editor has their own predilections.

Erin Cole said...

Hi Jayne,

I just Googled "rejection blues" and got your post, delightedly so. I enjoyed hearing your take on the big R.

I've been trying to publish a particular short story, and this is its 4th rejection. I don't think every thing I write is rubbish, I just wonder if I'll ever get that break, that entrance into the paid market.

I'll supply the superglue if you keep the Youtube music flowing.

Erin

L.A Speedwing said...

Oh I so know what you mean Jayne. Wallowing is necessary in order to bounce back. There is no up without down. And thank you for visiting my blog and be a supporter. I love your blog and your bravery to be so honest about your writing is our beacon of hope.