Thursday, 1 May 2014

Fabulous Rejections

You may remember from my post Positively Productive Writing that one of my favourite things about Simon Whaley's book, The Positively Productive Writer, is his attitude to rejections. He encourages writers to write booster cards, which may include the phrase 'I am a writer  I get rejections!' 

The point is, if people are ever going to read your writing, you need to be published. If you're going to be published, you need to submit work to competitions, journals, etc. If you submit your writing, you will get rejections. 

If you submit lots of work, you will get lots of rejections  and that's wonderful!

I'm serious. As much as I love sarcasm, I am definitely not being sarcastic. Honest. Gaining the confidence and courage to submit your writing is a big deal. It's something I've avoided, until this year. Sure, I might have entered the odd competition, but I wasn't systematically sending out stories.

This year, I've been making more of an effort to put myself 'out there'. I've already achieved my modest goal of submitting 12 pieces of writing in 2014, despite being only a third of the way through the year. I cannot over-emphasise how weird this is for me!

And now I've received what I thought was an urban myth: personalised rejections.

Yep, I'd heard of writers getting a rejection that refers specifically to their submission, as opposed to a general 'not right for us' comment, but I didn't think it happened often. Especially not to me. It seems that my stories are actually being read, not discarded after the opening sentence.

One personalised rejection gave me a valuable critique of my story's ending. I'm not sure whether I will change it, because other people have liked the ending, but I was thrilled to get this advice. I will probably try my luck a few more times and see if I get similar responses.

Another was not only specific my story, but apologetic! The editor of an anthology liked my story, but it simply didn't fit in with the anthology. He wished me luck in getting it published. Needless to say, I was thrilled!

I'm trying to be a more assertive writer (see this post), but it can get demoralising when your inbox fills with emails that say the same thing over and over. My recent rejections have confirmed to me that:
a). My submissions get read
b). Some editors quite like my writing
c). Rejection is not personal

So now I have no excuse, I'm off to re-submit some stories!


  1. Brilliant post Haley, you're right, we wouldn't win the lottery first time, and being read is the best way to get your voice heard. I'm sure editors will get to know us the more we send in. Thanks.

  2. Great post, Hayley, and you're absolutely spot on! Rejections, especially personalised ones, show you're a writer who is sending work out. And then the acceptances start coming!

  3. Thank you both for your comments :-)

  4. A really uplifting post, Hayley. Rejection is part of the writer's life. (I have often had success with stories that have been through several rejections first.) Every story has its own history and the rejections are a part of that. It's hugely encouraging that you have had personalised rejections and it's wonderful that you are submitting work and getting your voice heard out there. And best of all, your positive attitude to the process is going to be a great asset throughout your career. x