My e-mails are very busy these days, but not for a desirable reason. I’m getting an unending stream of rejections from agents and editors. The manuscript of my new novel, alone, has so many dismissals I’ve tossed it into a desk drawer. And I don’t want to count how many times my stories have been turned down by magazine editors. In the past I could surf rejections, confident positIve responses were somewhere on the horizon. But now the steady chorus of “No,” has worn on me. The problem with rejections of your work is that they can make you feel as if you’re a total failure.
I’m aware this is standard fare for writers. It’s some comfort to learn that Stephen King was rejected 30 times, not for some youthful failure , but for “Carrie “– the book that launched his career! Joseph Heller was in a “Catch-22” with exactly 22 rejections for the book whose title has become a byword. Then there’s “Chicken Soup for the Soul “ – 144 rejections. Author Jack Canfield’s recipe is to “reject rejection and just say, ‘Next’”!
There are scores of other examples. So I tell myself I’m in good company. It’s just that it’s a company I don’t enjoy being with. In a masochistic mood, I looked up synonyms for rejected. Unfortunately, what leaped out at me was one of my own traumas: for rejected also means “abandoned.”
Googling the Internet for a more promising word I discovered rejectionist. That doesn’t mean a callous editor, but “one who objects.” I will make that my secret self! Now when a manuscript gets the usual “doesn’t fit our needs,” I’ll object with a lofty rejectionist reply: “Your response doesn’t fit my needs.”
Of course, I won’t actually deliver that message– but it may give me strength to keep sending out my stories. Does this never-give-up attitude really help? One answer comes from the author of the aptly titled – “The Help.” Kathryn Stockett kept trying through 60 rejections. “What if I had given up at sixty?” she asks. For it was her 61st attempt that succeeded in attracting an agent.
We might also decide to take charge and self-publish our work, as even Proust did when he’d had enough of rejection. A current author, Lisa Genoiva, endured 100 rejections of her manuscript. She finally gave in and self-published. Then in a movie-style ending,that version was picked up and reprinted by Galley Books (subsidiary of Simon and Shuster). What was this fortunate book? “Still Alice”! As we know, it had a movie-style scenario, for real, as a profitable film..
So I’m taking out my manuscrirpt and submitting (terrible word) to agents again. There’s no guarantee that my book will be published, but it sure won’t if it’s kept in a drawer!
P.S. You don’t have to be a writer to find that persistence can pay off. Don’t give up trying to make contact with your adolescent, for instance! Keep demanding a raise from that elusive boss, or insisting on equal treatment with men, or any other effort that will put you on the winning side– no matter how many stubborn times it takes!
BOOKS: COME and GO – available through BookBaby.com, WIDOW’S WALK –iUniverse.com; TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW –Xlibris.com, TEN WOMEN OF VALOR and ROLE PLAY- available through CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com; also Amazon Kindle.