Hi, my name is Bob; and I get rejected.
As a blogger, article writer, game writer, and writer of books, I suffer “rejection” on a nearly daily basis—and not only because of my slovenly appearance. As I often tell people, publishing is a highly subjective business; and what one editor pooh-poohs another may ooh-ooh. “Sure, Bob,” you may say, “but rejection still hurts.” I hear you. It feels awful, doesn’t it? Feels like a kick-in-the-gut. Smells like failure.
But it’s not. Really, it’s not. Rejection is a part of the writing-for-publication deal. It’s not even a necessary evil. It can actually be seen as a good thing, believe it or not. Let me count the ways:
Rejection is critique
I use a three-inch-thick binder in which I record the when/what editor/what newspaper or magazine/what response/what payment of the articles I submit. I’ve used it for years. Each article has its own page. Some were rejected so many times, I had to add more pages to record the nasty torrent of negativism they earned. Mind you, all of them were brilliantly written. But over time I came to see the reasons why, say, this particular piece seemed to get no traction. Even when the pink slip was only a pink slip, the rejection was a critique of something. And sometimes, when an editor actually jotted a comment, it helped me to revise or restrategize, which sometimes led to a sale! Glory be.
Rejection is education
Back in the olden days, I hammered out a short novel—my first—and started submitting it. I sent that proposal (see, I was smart, even back then!) to every editor at any and every publishing house I could find that said they published fiction. (See, I wasn’t so smart, even back then!) It was rejected more than one hundred times. I know, right? It was eventually accepted for publication, though, and was even optioned for a movie. But those many rejections taught me a lot. First and foremost, that I had much to learn. Also, that sending to every fiction editor who ever lived was not a good strategy. And more. Much more. But that’s what I’m talking—er, writing—about. If you pay close attention, you can learn a lot from rejection.
Rejection is redirection
So, Christianity Today didn’t accept your article on “The Sin of Fishing in Territorial Waters”? Huh. Weird. Maybe it’s because that article is much better suited for Today’s Christian Fisherman. See what I mean? It can be discouraging when editors respond to your submission with a curt “not right for us,” but that’s often because it’s not right for them. But the wise writer will pause, if only momentarily, to consider who (if anyone) it is right for. And, sure, you can’t know everything about every publisher out there; but you can, as editors often say, “Read the magazine.” Or, in the case of book publishers, scan the bookshelves or websites carefully.
Rejection is training in righteousness
Every so often, I find it helpful to remind myself that God knows more stuff than I do. (Shocking, I know). He knows if your piece is ready for publication. He knows if you are ready for publication. He knows if critique, education, redirection, or delay will produce something good—better, even—in you or through you. Sure, you and I are both pretty sure that your character and fruit are both fully developed; but always remember that when nothing is working for you, God is.
I hope that makes sense. I hope this blog’s erudite and gracious host and editor will see the value of this post, and that it will land somewhere in your heart and mind. But if not, well, it’s not failure, right? Right? Hello? Someone?