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