It does. We all know it, because we all experience it. Everyone gets rejected.
File it under Human Condition, kick it down the curb like a dinged up Coke can, shout at the sky in frenetic, spoken word poetry while the storm rumbles. However you want to flag it, rejection is a thing that happens to us all, and we all gotta confront it how we like.
I can’t seem to sell this one damn story. Hell, I’m not having luck with a few things, but lumping my stories all together is silly, because they’re all different, and hell, who knows, maybe they’ll find a home soon enough but I got one story that’s nestled between my teeth like the ghost of a steak dinner, and it’s making me a little batty.
I’ve reached the point in my career, (that bears its own blog post), where my writing is solid enough, and the stories are good enough, that many editors are reading them through the end, really reading them, considering and weighing and deliberating with the other folks involved in making and putting together all the amazing magazines we have out there. And many days, these editors will pass on the story I’ve sent them, often with words of encouragement and kindness and support and to those editors I say thank you and bless you for your time, because being an editor and being the one to read ALL THESE STORIES and then make a decision, that’s a tough job, man, a real tough job.
These guys have a really hard job. Like, A REALLY HARD JOB. I slush read for a great, popular magazine, and just the amount of stories submitted, the amount of, well, slush to slog through in order to find the gems, and even then, to separate the gems and find the ones that will not only shine, but come together in a way to make the best issue possible . . . That’s a really hard job. Editors and agents and readers have a very difficult job, (another blog post in it’s own right and one that will see the light of day soon). I think a lot of writers forget that. Believe me, I don’t blame ’em, man. Story’s not working for you, it’s not working for you. I know it ain’t personal.
But this story stuck between my teeth, I feel it’s well written, but the fuck do I know? I’m the papa bear, I wrote the damn thing. I like to think its good, that it’ll make people think, maybe make them laugh, but again, I wrote the damn thing. I should be thinking that stuff. If it wasn’t ready for the light of day, I wouldn’t even be shopping it around.
I think the frustrating thing, for me and a lot of writers, is that you just don’t know, yeah? Maybe it just hasn’t found the right market. Maybe it needs a re-write. Maybe a certain character arc, or bit of dialogue is holding it back. It could just be that this is a highly subjective business with a million and half different factors influencing how a reader will read or view or judge things, and that maybe the stars need to align just so before this piece finds a home. But I think that’s the frustrating thing: you just don’t know. And if you’re going to survive in this industry, you need to make peace with that unknowableness.
Bah, I’m rambling, and I’m amped up on adrenaline from shoveling, (seriously, we have like a foot and half out there, and part of me just wants to drown in beer and the other half wants to run a marathon to Montana and back because Adrenaline Is Scary And Makes You Want To Move).
Guess I’m trying to say, if you’re a writer who has gotten rejected, (by which I mean, if you’re a writer), then you’ve probably felt as I do. And maybe you’re ready to throw in the towel, say Fuck It, Dude, and go play PS3 until your brain turns to spinach and never submit again.
Well, I’m here to say to you and remind myself, don’t.
Don’t give up, writer friends.
Rejection is the name of the game. Rejection is going to be the 9 times out of 10, the waves that lash you and hit you as push your way out to sea, the heat that seems never ending, daunting, endless. But don’t let it stop you.
Rejection is going to come for you a lot. Let it push you, motivate you, make you work on your stories and your writing so hard and with such fervor that they can’t help but notice you. Rejection is nature’s way of knocking you to the ground so you can get back up.
Let the rejection become your fuel, your red bull, your super soldier serum.
It sucks. It absolutely sucks. But you have to keep trying. You have to keep submitting the strongest stories possible. You have to keep working on your craft in the held breath between submission and answer.
And when you sell a story, smile, celebrate, shout in joy.
Then keep submitting. Keep working.
Write on, space cowboys.