I received my second (novel) rejection earlier this week, and it felt like I’d been steamrollered.
I have come to realise that a rejection can easily be likened to the five stages of a bereavement or break-up. Because, like it or not, you will go through them. And as this blog is about my writing journey, about my successes as well as my failures, it’s only fitting that I should share this step and the feelings it evoked.
Anger – In my case, it wasn’t so much anger, more shock and confusion. Deep down, I think I guessed it would be rejected. We set ourselves up to expect the worst, so that anything else comes as a beautiful surprise. But even though I expected a rejection, I was still shocked by such unexpected feelings of hurt and disappointment. While playing the waiting game, I think I secretly hoped for a ‘revise and resubmit’, but let’s face it, this is my first full-length, completed novel, and although I have submitted a partial manuscript before which was also rejected, this one is technically (in my book – excuse the pun) my first official submission and rejection, which is nothing in this industry.
Denial – Yep, this one definitely played its part, but this came first. Mainly because when you’re playing the waiting game, you begin to imagine that your submission hasn’t even been received, or that you followed the guidelines incorrectly, or that it’s been lost somewhere, never to be seen again. That YOU have been forgotten about. Little, insignificant you, just a tiny grain of sand lost in an entire beach. So when that email first arrived in my inbox, my heart slammed against my chest and forgot to keep beating. My whole body went cold, my hands started to shake, and I had absolutely no idea whether I should open it, because I didn’t want to know what was inside.
Bargaining – I tried bargaining with myself throughout the waiting period. ‘No news is good news. You’ve worked so hard on this book, it’s intricately woven, it deserves a decent amount of attention. Wait it out.’ Except, that little voice kept chipping away. ‘Forget it. Move on. You’re insignificant, you’ve been forgotten about.’
Depression – It hit. It struck like a giant wave engulfing me and sucking me under. Yes, it’s a cliche, but I don’t care. That’s how I felt. I told my writer friends. I told my husband. I told one of my close friends. I needed to express these vile feelings churning inside me, even if only to tell someone and have them try and make me feel better about it. It worked, a little. But the only thing that truly helped was a good night’s sleep and to get back in my chair and continue working on my current WIP.
Acceptance – Fortunately for me, I bounce easily. Also, fortunately for me, I have a fantastic support group of writing friends, who told me what I needed to hear: Keep going. I have a distinctive voice. One response doesn’t signify the end. It’s only one person’s opinion. Additionally, it’s only my second rejection. Which is nothing in this field. It still hurts, but I also know it means I have a fair way to go in honing the craft of novel writing. The best part about this rejection, is that the editor said it was a ‘fun first novel.’ Imagine that? My first novel, my first full piece of work, which went through five drafts in just over a year, which started off as a typical romance and ended up being set in the 1920s (WHAT happened?!). It was bloody hard work, it was complicated, it made me go cross-eyed, and I fell in love with my characters. So, I’m not going to forget about it and move on, I’m going to put it to one side for now. There are some aspects which need work, but the editor also said I have ‘great potential.’ She took the time to give me that feedback, as well as the parts which need more work, and I’m going to hold on to that and remember it every time I feel doubt. ‘A fun first novel’ is perhaps the most amazing thing an editor from a well-known publisher could say in a rejection, so although the end result wasn’t what I dreamed of, it will come to help me in my journey.
If you’re reading this and have recently received a rejection of your own, I hope you’ll gain some encouragement from this post. Realise that if you want something badly enough – it’s in your power to keep trying. As I have always said, the only way to fail is to stop trying.
Never. Give. Up.