On Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at exactly 17:39 AEST I received my first official rejection as an aspiring writer. I can’t tell you exactly where I was, what the weather was like or anything about the specific moment of the day I read the email, only the pang of disappointed I felt, a sense of deflation at not succeeding on my first attempt.
Subject: RE: [Bide] I Never
Date: Wednesday, 10 June 2015, 17:39
Thank you so much for sending us “I Never”.
We found this series to be an interesting and sad reflection, and enjoyed some of the imagery very much. Unfortunately it is not quite the right fit for us this time. We hope you’ll send more of your work in the future, and wish you continued creative inspiration.
I had submitted three short stories to Bide for publication in their quarterly issue. It was a series I title ‘I never’ exploring the dynamics of mother daughter relationships. Each followed a set structure and ended with ‘I never…’
I knew it was coming. I’d left submission to the very last-minute so I brushed the rejection aside knowing it was not my best work. Rejection can’t hurt you as much when you know you can do better, right?
I did take solace in the fact the editor of Bide had read my work and provided some form of constructive and positive feedback. “Interesting and sad reflection” – essentially that was the exact emotion I hoped to evoke.
The second rejection came a little over a month later. That one stung.
Subject: The Big Issue Fiction edition_Update
From: The Big Issue Editorial Team
Date: Monday, 13 July 2015, 13:18
We received many excellent short stories (over 400), but unfortunately…
This time we won’t be able to use the story you sent.
Editorial Coordinator |The Big Issue
I had taken the time to write this story, and then edit and re-edit. It was also part of the ‘I never’ series, but it was the most personal, it contained childhood sibling rivalry laid bare for all the world to judge. Yet I received the stock standard rejection. A mass email sent to hundreds of other nameless aspiring writers.
I could have taken solace in the fact I had competed against over 400 submissions so the odds of success were low, but the odds of success for a writer are always low. There will always be hundreds of stories competing for reader attention.
Rejection suxs! I think the only thing one can do as a writer is embrace it. Allow yourself to wallow in self-pity, take a moment to feel disheartened, and then channel all that emotion back into your writing. After all, readers don’t want a character who had it easy, who had everything given to them. Your character must face adversity, and then overcome it to inspire others.
If you’ve never faced hardship, never faced rejection, you’ll never become a great writer, right?