Rejection is a fact of life but that doesn’t make it any easier. In fact it makes it even harder because it means the chances of acceptance are slim, especially when I feel like I’m really wandering in the dark and when people enjoy and respond to what I write it’s a happy accident rather than something planned. In college all my friends and I were aspiring writers and we’d comfort each other by telling each other that you wouldn’t get your first acceptance letter until you’d been able to paper your room with rejections. I really think this supposedly comforting thought prevented us from submitting anything. Why would we want to subject ourselves to that much negativity?
And yet the urge is still there. So I wrote something that I thought was pretty funny and that maybe I should submit it. So I submitted it to, of all places, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. This was partly because I own the McSweeney’s humor anthology Created In Darkness By Troubled Americans and find a lot of it funny and felt what I’d written fit with what they were looking for. Being connected to the literary journal Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern it also seems like a pretty major publication, and I like to aim high.
You know the saying: aim for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll fall among the stars. Of course eventually you’ll run out of food and water, although your breathable air will be the first thing to go, and your corpse will forever float through the freezing blackness of space until it falls into a star and is incinerated or is gradually ripped apart by gravitational forces.
What I’m getting at is this is what happened:
You’re probably wondering what I wrote, or at least I hope you are. Let’s just say it’s a story about public transportation written in the form of early computer text-based games like Planetfall and Colossal Cave Adventure that I spent way too much of my teenage years trying to solve. I won’t say anything more about it except that it’s helpful if you ever encounter a dwarf who wants you to play Hucka Bucka Beanstalk and please tell me I’m not the only one who finds that funny. Anyway the piece may appear here eventually but I feel like the rejection has inspired me to try again. There are a lot of other places out there. Rejection is a fact of life. So is acceptance.
Let the wallpapering commence.
I don’t know if this is any consolation, but if this troubled American published an anthology of my favorite writing, you would be in it.
That is a consolation and prompts me to keep writing. Or rather to continue sharing my writing. If I didn’t think it appealed to anyone I’d keep it to myself, but the writing itself seems to be a compulsion I can’t turn off.
It’s been some years ago when I attempted submission of a children’s book, it would make more for a children’s PICTURE book (but I ain’t no artist so I didn’t already have pics drawn). My first real rejection letter was kind of cool, it made my writing efforts feel more “real” and “professional” (ha), but then when the rest start rolling in, that didn’t feel so good. I’ve shelved the effort. But I know you’ll get a bite, Chris. You are truly too talented to not. 🙂
Thank you so much for the encouragement. And it’s interesting to me that you turned in an idea for a children’s book and they turned you down. Not every children’s book author is an artist so how do they get paired up with someone to illustrate their work? I’ve always figured publishers have some artists handy so they could make the necessary connections.
Writing and drawing are solitary but publishing is really a collaborative process.
I figure it’s just a matter of time before you get something published. But man, the rejection definitely hurts. I’ve submitted some pieces to various online places (like Huffington Post and Scary Mommy and the like) but have only got rejection emails (or no reply at all). One lady was encouraging and said she liked my work but it just didn’t fit for them. Still, even a tiny bit of encouragement gets washed away by the rejection. Or for me at least. I look forward to your post when you tell us about your first published work. 🙂
It’s a process that just deepens my respect for Dr. Seuss and other writers or artists who have their work rejected multiple times but just keep plugging away. Yeah, The Cat In The Hat was rejected 27 times, and I don’t think that’s even a record.
Do you feel the letters that are encouraging are in a way more discouraging than just outright rejections? That’s the way I feel. If I’d gotten a flat-out “This sucks and we hate it” I’d think, well, they just didn’t get it. It’s the positive ones that make me think, well, if you like it why are you still turning it down?
Please keep writing. I really enjoy reading you. I feel like the main criteria for whether or not something is conventionally published is not often the quality of the work.
I appreciate that so much. The writing itself is a compulsion. I couldn’t stop if I tried. In fact I have tried, thinking I’d completely run out of ideas, only to find that my head was exploding with ideas.
Also the older I get the more I realize too there are a lot of extremely talented people who can sing or paint or do other things who’ll just never reach a wide enough audience to be able to quit their day jobs. One of the great things about the internet, though, is it does make it easier for those people to share their talents.
I’m impressed that you took a risk in the first place. Not all of us are that brave. I love that you aimed high and don’t seem to be too banged up by having taken a tumble.
You’re a great writer and are very prolific. I don’t know nothin’ about getting published, but I would think that with your combination of skill and tenacity you’re going to get your foot in the door somewhere. It’s exciting to watch.
The part about falling among the stars, but running out of food, water, breathable air, etc. was hysterical.
Prolificness ProlificityBeing so prolific is what really gives me the courage to try and get my work out there and published, not just limited to my little blog here. If A gets rejected then maybe there’s still hope for B, and so on. When I was just a lad I heard a talk by a successful writer who said very few people will ever write just one thing which is why it’s okay to fail.
But I also keep in mind that just because it’s okay to fail the important thing is to try again, and to try to make everything as good as it can possibly be. The chances may be very good that A is going to get rejected but those chances can be reduced by hard work. That’s why that same writer said “Seventy-five percent of writing is rewriting.”
Please try again! I’m glad you submitted because it’s no joke when all of us tell you how gifted you are, and your wit is superbly smooth. I’m always very excited when I see you’ve posted…except when you post smart stuff about planets, because, well, duh, I know nothing. But I’ve grown rather fond of the transportation stories, so do continue. I anxiously await your first anthology.
I hope you’ll enjoy my anthology because that’s exactly what I’m planning for someday. Frequently when I post something I’ll come back to it a few hours or a few days or a few years later and think, “Oh, there’s another thing I could have put in there…” It’s hard to resist the temptation to edit an older post but then I think, “Save it for the book.” Then when I publish the book I’ll be able to say that there’s stuff in it that isn’t new and improved…it’s old and improved!
I definitely think that putting yourself out there is a major accomplishment, accepted or not. Too many are afraid to even try.
The funny thing is I say to myself, what’s the worst that could happen? And then the rejection comes and it’s like being punched. I definitely understand the feelings of those who are afraid to try.