Rejection can be paralyzing. The thought of putting yourself out there to only be turned away can be enough to stop you from wanting to try. But, what is the worst that can happen? You ask, they say no. But, if you don’t ask, you are rejecting yourself.
Sending creative work to magazines, contests, agents, or publishers is not an easy task. Knowing that this writing thing can’t be done without some rejections doesn’t make receiving them any easier. After a while you might start to wonder if you’re in the right spot, chasing the right thing. A question I see a lot in writer groups is how do you know when to trunk a piece of writing? How many rejections should you draw the line at? There is not a simple answer here. I think it is a matter of feeling.
The important thing to consider is not how many rejections you get, but how many chances you took. Did you give up after one? two? a hundred? I think one thing to consider after several rejections is to take a close look at your submission package. Is there something in there that is pushing people to pass? Maybe the grammar is off, there are typos, maybe the formatting is wrong, or maybe it is something bigger and you want to rewrite the first pages. Making these changes, altering the submission package, is not giving up, it is giving yourself more of a chance. Work with feedback, was it a query letter only that got the pass or the sample pages? Sometimes the only way to know the answer on this one is to look at what you submitted, if they ask for query only or query and sample, if it is both then you can assume they looked at the pages and passed, but if you aren’t getting beyond the query letter it is time to revise it.
Whether you are submitting creative writing, technical writing, or resumes it is important to pay attention to the details and give yourself some room to rework things if you need to. A rejection doesn’t mean you will not succeed, it just means that that particular person wasn’t a fit for your work, or someone else was more qualified. Sometimes these rejections can lead us to better things in the long run. Each rejection can be a lesson if you look at it hard enough. Each one might be pushing you to where you want to be.
When I queried my first work I got some requests for more, some personalized rejections, some form rejections, and some crickets. But, looking back on it all now, I wouldn’t be where I am if those had gone any other way. I wouldn’t have sought out an internship to learn more about the process and fallen in love with that work. If I hadn’t sought out and got that first internship I would not be working with the Literary Agent I am now and the work I am doing now feels so utterly right for me. It has given me insight into the world, but also I have found another passion within it.
While the rejections hurt. Especially the first, they were one of the best things that could have happened, because they led me here. And now, I am ready to send my work back out there, I am ready to work hard in this internship, and I am excited to see where it is all going to lead me.
Don’t be afraid of rejection. Because you never know where it might lead you, but don’t self-reject. Don’t stop yourself from putting it out there because you just never know what will come back your way –it might be something you never expected.