The Writing Life – Rejection

A few years ago I took an aptitude test designed to show strengths and weaknesses. I may have had more of one than the other. 🙂 One of the things I learned is that I’m an INCLUDER. Clifton StrengthFinders describes it like this:

“Stretch the circle wider.” This is the philosophy around which you orient your life. You want to include people and make them feel part of the group. In direct contrast to those who are drawn only to exclusive groups, you actively avoid those groups that exclude others. You want to expand the group so that as many people as possible can benefit from its support. You hate the sight of someone on the outside looking in. You want to draw them in so that they can feel the warmth of the group. You are an instinctively accepting person. Regardless of race or sex or nationality or personality or faith, you cast few judgments. Judgments can hurt a person’s feelings. Why do that if you don’t have to? Your accepting nature does not necessarily rest on a belief that each of us is different and that one should respect these differences. Rather, it rests on your conviction that fundamentally we are all the same. We are all equally important. Thus, no one should be ignored. Each of us should be included. It is the least we all deserve.

This is why I want everyone to find a great agent, a terrific editor, and to be published, and it’s why I’m so bothered that not everyone who enters The Bertie will win. UGH. But here’s the truth about the writing life – it is full of rejection. I watched a video of Stephen King the other day. He was discussing his book, The Shining, and said that he’d written a screenplay for the movie version. It was not used by the director, but King didn’t think it was a big deal because by then he’d received thousands of rejections. THOUSANDS. Rejected, it’s what we do.

Not every agent wanted me as a client, and not ever editor wanted LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS, and not every reader loves my books. I didn’t win every contest I entered. Okay, I won zero. So how do we take rejection without getting discouraged?

  1. Learn from it. The only common thread through my early rejections of REBELS was pacing. I went back to the drawing board and cut out 10,000 words. That’s right, 10,000! It made for a much cleaner, faster-paced book and my agent sold it soon after. Every rejection is another opportunity to make your writing better.
  2. Ignore it. A lot of what people think and say about books is subjective. It just didn’t resonate with THEM. I don’t love every book I read, in fact, last week I was reading a book that everyone had clamored over. I couldn’t get through it. Does that make the book bad? No, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. You don’t know why someone doesn’t choose your book/manuscript/story – it could be a lot of things. The agent might have a client/book that is too similar, the editor might have just published something in the same vein, the contest judge could have been seriously considering your entry, but had to choose only one. That happened to me a lot in Pitch Wars.

If you write, you’ll get rejected. Don’t take it personally. The writing journey is not about how fast you get an agent, get published, or how many contests you win – it’s about the story. Keep writing!

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