Surviving Rejection: A Fiction Writers Guide

Recognition never fails to send me into a celebration frenzy. By recognition, I mean writing triumphs like receiving ‘The Call’ from that editor I stalked for five years while cleverly avoiding a restraining order (just kidding), or the receipt of several glowing 5-star reviews for my latest masterpiece, and let’s not forget those contest awards piling up in my office. Hey, I have at least two, possibly more, but who’s counting?

Yes, those are the golden moments of my writing career, moments when I break out the celebration stash of chocolate (or champagne), do a happy dance, and fire up Twitter to inform readers of my glorious achievement in the hopes of going viral, thereby enticing a massive download of my books. Move over, E. L. James.

But what about those cold, dark times of rejection and criticism? Because, believe it or not, rejections are an unfortunate fact of life for 99.9999% of all fiction writers.

It’s hard not to react at a visceral level. After all, a fiction novel, especially romance, is a tad more personal than, say, a report on ‘The Technical Viability of the Blah-Blah-4006, Series XXIIV.’ It’s a gut-wrenching moment to open that rejection notice, or read a less-than-stellar (and, naturally, unwarranted) review on Amazon, and let’s not forget the scathing critique from a certain biased contest judge who shall remain unnamed, mainly because I never learned her name.

In the past, my reaction generally included a burning desire for vengeance, followed by the consumption of my entire body weight in chocolate, culminating in a rant about the unfairness of life in general and the writing business in particular.

But here’s the thing. I detest feeling like a victim. To quote Yoda: “Whining no good is.”

I must be growing up at last, because I’ve come to recognize that I have the power to prevent rejection from eroding my self-esteem.

It’s that simple. Note, I didn’t say easy, but it is simple. Not the same thing.

In short, I can control how I react to rejection. Once the initial pain fades, I can either choose view myself as a failure, wallowing in self-pity, and bad-mouthing the cretin who didn’t recognize my literary genius—or I can view each and every rejection  as a cause for celebration, an opportunity to improve my writing skills, an acknowledgement that I poured my heart and soul and creativity into my books, and had the courage to risk rejection.

I choose to celebrate my rejections, to hold my head high, proud that I have accomplished something untold millions dream of, but few succeed in accomplishing—WRITTEN A NOVEL.

See? Simple, but not easy.


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