Friday, February 19, 2016

EMBRACING REJECTION

Annalisa Crawford just placed 3rd in the 2015 Costa Short Story Contest and she's here today to discuss every author's nemesis - rejection!
Congratulations Annalisa!

A new look at rejection
by 
Annalisa Crawford

I have read many blog posts and articles over the years about how to handle rejection. But I'm not sure handling rejection is the way to go... I think embracing rejection is a much better way to approach your writing.

It's been long established that, in writing terms, I am very, very old. I have been submitting short stories and novels since before the internet, before email. Yes, folks, I had to snail mail each and every one - kissing the envelope before posting!

And, therefore, I have received many, many rejections. And survived.

Not just survived, I thrived.

I was very lucky. Early on, I found a small monthly competition that I entered regularly. It was run by one guy called Keith, who always commented on why he liked my story and why it hadn't won. In fact, over time, we struck up quite a correspondence. This is one of the letters he sent...



... and as a young writer, having someone telling me the truth, focusing his thoughts solely on me for two typewritten pages, and being so encouraging at the same time was tremendously helpful.

(A complete aside: in the letter, Keith mentioned several other writers who were also entering his competition regularly - I search them, and one had been quite a prolific childrens/YA author. So, you never know who you are pitting yourself against!)

Here's what rejection can do for you:

· It allows you to look at your manuscript with objective eyes. After all, if someone doesn't like it, it can't be perfect, can it? And, to be honest, you don't ever want to think your work is perfect, because you'll get complacent.
· The editors/judges aren't rejecting you - they don't know you. They just didn't like those words you put on the page, in that order. Because the next story you send, they might love.
· It's not you, it's them. That story rejected today - when the editor had a miserable journey to work, and spilled his coffee over his desk, and was thinking about his sick uncle - might have been accepted the following day, when the sun was shining and his uncle was better. You can't do anything about any of that!
· It makes you stronger, it makes you fearless, it makes you a writer (all the best ones have been rejected).

I, personally, think every writer needs to put themselves in a position where they could be rejected - a competition, a literary magazine submission - and expect to fail. Now, instead of feeling down about it, instead of needing ice-cream and a friendly shoulder to cry on, I simply read the story, makes changes (or not) and send it out again. No drama!
  
Do you allow yourself to be rejected?
What has been your worst? And your best?





Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat.

She writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories, and has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years. She recently won 3rd Place in the Costa Short Story Award 2015.









Thank you, Annalisa.
Great food for thought and discussion!

Has rejection made you stronger?


47 comments:

  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Yolanda :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's my pleasure! Great discussion. Rejection is an opportunity to grow, well, after the tears, chocolate, and wine. :) It happens, it hurts, and it makes you a fighter/survivor!
      Thanks, Annalisa, Congratulations on your Costa win!

      Delete
  2. Thank you Annalisa for this insightful post!!! And it hit's the nail on the head! I'm also a survivor of countless rejections. And I've never thought of this new way, "to embrace' them. Very Good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you found it helpful. If we fear rejection, we don't put ourselves out there - which is such a terrible thing, in the long run.

      Delete
  3. Very true, it lets you pick things out and get better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does us know favours when people only compliment us - we need to be brought back down to earth sometimes :-)

      Delete
  4. well done post. It does make one think about one's writing and re-look if the same piece is rejected a lot. Or the old "well...sorta good, but not quite" means one is close and just has to rework it. Still can't say I embrace rejection, but I respect it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Respect is a good reaction, a positive one.

      Delete
  5. Not a writer, but embracing rejection is a great way to look at it. Constructive criticism is great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It works in all facets of life - job interviews especially!

      Delete
  6. Hello Annalisa and Yolanda
    Rejection. Most writers get worried over this. I had a critique partner years ago who told me that when he received a packet back from whom ever he had sent it to, he first poured himself a scotch, found a chair and opened it, expecting a rejection. I have been rejected a lot. Mainly because I have a YA voice but my characters are twenty something. I can tell a good horror story about one rejection in particular but I'll save that for another time. I think your friendship with Keith must have been a great benefit.
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keith did an amazing thing for me, and taught me how to move forward with my writing. Oh, I'd love to hear that horror story :-) In the snail mail days, I had a rejection 2 days after I posted it - which basically was enough time for them to receive the letter, repackage into my SAE and resend :-(

      Delete
  7. Not being a writer, I haven't experienced that kind of rejection, but many of us have experienced rejection on job searches enough of which can make you depressed. However, your attitude seems to be a very healthy one Annalisa. From your story, Keith sounds like he was a young writer's dream.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keith was very helpful - I really don't think he knew how much.

      Delete
  8. I wish I had a Keith. You have a great interpretation of rejection Annalisa. Never letting it get you down is very important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love to think I could be a 'Keith' for some young writer one day :-)

      Delete
  9. The very first rejection is always the hardest, because it's a wake-up call. We feel so cocksure about our work, and so sure it's gonna be a big hit... well, that's what we dream, anyway, when we're young, and floating five feet off the ground while waiting to hear back from the agent or editor the first time around. Then we learn it isn't quite that easy. Can't say that I embrace rejection, but I thoroughly appreciate a rejection that has some constructive meat to it. The generic ones aren't particularly helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the generic rejections say "Come on, you can do better than this." That's what mine have always said to me :-)

      Delete
  10. Embracing rejection is a way of handling rejection. ;) All rejections end up having some sort of good behind them, we just have to find it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. It could be too easy to crawl into a cave and give up.

      Delete
  11. Fantastic post! I agree rejection does make you stronger. Many moons ago when I was a 19 year old, I got my first rejection and took it so hard, I didn't let anyone see my writing again for several years. Slowly I began to send my stuff out to small venues. Those rejections hurt too, but age had made me a little tougher. When the first acceptance came, it was worth everything. I still get far more rejections than acceptances, but that's okay. I learn from them and carry on. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a shame it took you so long to submit again after that first rejection. You're more than making up for it now, though :-)

      Delete
  12. Hi Yolanda and Annalisa - you've done so well coming third in the Costa Awards .. and are obviously a lady of great perseverance. This post is so good - and a maxim to apply to all areas of life - ie put oneself in someone else's shoes ... seeing the 'challenge' from the other side. Learning to understand another POV ...

    We need to learn from what's in front of us .. here you say it so clearly ... and also what's under the stone we can't see ... cheers to you both - Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Hilary. I really couldn't imagine having hundreds of stories to read and select from!

      Delete
  13. Great way to look at rejection. I assume each response is a rejection. I've found I know within the first few words whether it's an acceptance or a rejection. It's always such a pleasant surprise when it's an acceptance. About 12 years ago, I submitted a few pieces via snail mail. I got frustrated at that time, because I wasn't finding mixed genre speculative fiction magazines, and my stories were a mishmash between horror and science fiction. Now that's not a problem, but it was then, so I ultimately gave up and stopped trying. Of course, I didn't have this wonderful resource of fellow authors online to get me through, either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My immediate reaction when I see an email is to assume rejection too. The internet has certainly made searching for markets easier, and the range of markets a lot bigger. And bloggers are brilliant, aren't they? :-)

      Delete
  14. I love how well you adapted to and learned from your rejections. They aren't something to be afraid of, they're just stepping stones on the path to publication (albeit fungussy, gross & icky ones. lol). I've never gotten any detailed rejections that were helpful, particularly from agents who always contradicted each other, but I do the same as you on bad reviews. I read, don't get mad, and learn how I can do better next time. Have a great weekend! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No two people are ever going to agree on how you can make a story better. I'll be looking out for icky, fungussy stepping stones, that's for sure!

      Delete
  15. Keith sounds like a writer's dream. If only all rejection letters were like his, embracing rejection would be a breeze :) Detailed, honest critiques help grow the writing, but I've rarely come across rejections with a review/reasons. But review or no, managing rejections and learning from them is a key skill for a writer.

    Congrats on the short story win!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Nilanjana. He was the perfect person for me at that time. He taught be to be patient. He said one day I would get that first place. And he was right :-)

      Delete
  16. Worst = no reply at all (a publishing standard at times); Best= rejection with an invitation to send additional manuscripts which they would be open to reviewing. After all, rejection is only that one person's opinion at that moment. That's been my way of handling rejection. . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sending new manuscripts is a great rejection. One of my memorable rejections was the editor telling me he didn't like the incest in my story - when all I did was have a girl miss her father. I thought it was quite a natural thing for a young girl to do :-(

      Delete
  17. Hi, Annalisa! You're really in a healthy place:) I didn't realize you were in a cat anthology! Way to go.

    Hi, Yolanda:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, a lovely anthology edited by Kyra Lennon in support of her local Cats' Protection League, where she volunteers.

      Delete
  18. I like the approach of embracing rejection. So much to learn from it but the days of 2 typewritten pages of feedback are long gone I fear. I'm glad you embraced rejection and didn't give up. Look at where it got you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think 2 page feedback were all that common at the time. I was just very lucky, and supported those monthly competitions for at least a couple of years.

      Delete
  19. I agree. Constructive criticism is always something we can learn from. We just have to take down that barrier of hurt and resentment and be objective. Thanks, Annalisa.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is a great way to look at it. I admit I tend to respond to rejection by eating a gallon of ice cream, etc, but now I'm going to work on embracing it. Great advice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And once you've embraced it, you can eat the ice-cream as a reward :-)

      Delete
  21. You're so smart, and so right, but I still want to whine and get chocolate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Compromise: embrace, don't whine, eat chocolate anyway?

      Delete
  22. I've learned a lot from rejections. It's nice when they take the time to say something. Many times they don't. But feedback is great.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wonderful thoughts, Annalisa! I think rejection has definitely honed my skills as a writer, so I agree, let's embrace it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm reasonably okay with rejection, but for now I've decided to skip around the whole submissions process and the handy side-effect of that is that I miss the subjectivity that's stopping me from publishing.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Brilliant way to look at rejection, it's part of the writing process and without it we wouldn't get anywhere. Sure, sometimes it hurts more than others, but I am a believer in trying again.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Very sensible approach. It's really important to remember that it's not personal. Feedback is a bonus but you can't always expect people to have time. Great that you got so much from Keith!

    ReplyDelete

Would love to hear from you, say hello and leave your blog address - I'll visit, but please take with you my undying gratitude that you stopped by for a read. Be well, be happy, and may your blog surfing bring you joy!