Dealing with Rejection by Donna

When I was thirteen years old my boyfriend broke up with me.  I wallowed in the rejection.  I listened to the same sad songs over and over again until my mother begged me to stop.  I made a shrine of every photo, every present, every note.  I lit candles.  I watched sad movies.  I cried.  I endlessly replayed every moment, every conversation, of our (three month) relationship. 

Okay.  I'll admit it.  I was a bit over-dramatic.  Weren't we all at that age?

Unfortunately, sometimes the writing life has all the angst of teenage heartbreak. No matter how you deal with it, rejection is definitely part of the publishing life and nothing about rejection feels good (I wrote more about that here).  It's frustrating, upsetting, maddening (and a whole lot of other bad words).  I don't think there is a recipe for getting to the "after rejection" phase, everyone deals differently, but writers who are able to keep going despite the disappointment are the ones who are ultimately successful.

Changing the story is certainly one option after rejection.  There are many wonderful successes that came about because of an openness to editorial suggestions and a willingness to work hard at making the story better.  One caution. On the heels of rejection, change can seem like the perfect solution.  (If I just was shorter/taller/longer hair/smarter/funnier... wait, we're talking about writing, right?) When I work with kids on their writing, I often tell them they are the "boss" of their own story.  Listening to editorial comments and receiving feedback is an important part of the writing process, but ultimately decisions about whether or not to make changes in the story is the author's unique decision.  After a particularly disappointing rejection, this is especially true.  It is tempting to try to do anything and everything suggested, and the result is a mish-mash of blah.  

Another option is to change nothing.  Sometimes it isn't the story at all, but the boyfriend... I mean...reader.  Agents and editors are individuals.  What one hates, another may love.  

Finally, there is another option, and it is typically the one no one wants to hear at the time.  My thirteen year old self certainly didn't want to hear it when my best friend told me over and over again.   Give up.  Move on.  Try something new.  It just might be better.  It might turn out to be "the one."  (Still talking about writing)

By the way, that teenage boyfriend I mentioned?  

Just last week, he "friended" me on Facebook.  

It seems like his daughter really wants to become a writer.  

Go figure.


Ahhh...that is the rub about rejection. Moving on is the only way to really "move on".

Thanks for this, Donna. Now if I could just figure out which option is the right one...

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