Rejection: Painful Progress or Deadening Defeat?

It's been a while since I've written a post on rejection. In fact, I've only ever written an entire post on it once, and somehow that piece is the most read on the blog. I get it. Writers face a near 99.9% rejection statistic. Some years we have a slump, and some we ease by with a couple of publications. I've been more lucky lately, but a quick look at my Submittable account is a cruel reminder of all the rejection I've had over the past two years.

There are two ways a writer can take in rejection. We can choose to see it as painful progress or deadening defeat. In my first post The Nasty Taste of Rejection, I spoke about the hurtful feedback I received from an editor. It was truly discouraging, but I fixed what I thought needed fixing and continued submitting it. The story has since been picked up by another journal. It all worked out, but we all know that's not always the case. Sometimes we can get so many rejections with a piece we decide to give up. I've been there too. I've not sent a single query out for my novel Georgia in over a year!

If we chose not to submit a work any longer, have we been defeated? Or could it be progress dressed in defeat? Here's how we know: If we've retired a piece because it doesn't seem to draw anyone's attention including our own anymore, we've made progress. Not everything is a masterpiece, but all written endeavors help in growing our voice. If we've given up on a piece that inspires us just because of what others say, then we've allowed ourselves to be defeated. If you believe in a piece, keep sending it to editors! It's likely you'll find someone who believes in it too.

The ultimate defeat comes when we stop pursuing our dream of writing. I've thought about this a lot lately since the time is quickly approaching for me to send out queries for my third novel. I've devoted an entire year to working on it, and I've never been so invested in something. The idea of letting it out into the world of agents terrifies me. In the past, I've handled rejection okay. It's never even slowed me down, and I'm hoping this time will be no different. But whatever happens, I want me and you to know that writers are born. I'm a writer because I've always been one and will always be one. Same goes for you. However hard it may be to overcome disappointment, we must never reject our dreams.

Best written wishes to you.

I Murdered THAT


Most of you know that I've been working on editing my manuscript for a few months now, which has been torture. It always is for me. I should actually be working on it right now, but alas I'm with you. And you're totally worth it. :)

Through ravaging my work, I've noticed that I dislike things in my own writing.

  1. I hate that my fingers have muscle memory and type words that exist but are clearly not the right ones for the sentence, and Word doesn't notice that they are wrong. Therefore, I have to hunt them down.
  2. I hate that in my first go round, I didn't take too much thought in character names, and now I have to change them to make them fit symbolically.
  3. I hate that I'm a putter inner when it comes to editing. I don't take a lot of things out because I usually write just the bare bones. It would be much easier and take less time to take out the too much than to have to put in more.
  4. I hate that I'm impatient. I struggle to meet my own deadlines. For the first edit, my self-inflicted deadline is the end of this week. Well, I still have nine chapters to go. Good luck.
  5. Last but not least, I hate the word "THAT." I have noticed THAT I use it way too much! It's the way I speak, and we all know we should never write the way we speak. (Especially I, who grew up in South Alabama.) I've slashed, stabbed, butchered, and cursed every THAT I could throughout my novel, and I think it's better for it. Now that I've noticed this annoying problem, I've caught myself looking for the same fiend in others' works. It appears I'm not the only one haunted by THAT. I had a professor once tell us to go through our papers and circle THIS, THAT, THESE, and THOSE. Wow were we shocked to see so many circles. He then challenged us to take them out and/or replace them with actual descriptions. I've been trying to heed to his advice. I murdered THAT. The others will soon follow.
What do you dislike about your writing? How have you learned to improve your skill?

Photo by Favim.