After a great couple of weeks to end 2012, including the Chicken Soup of the Soul final acceptance email, I opened 2013 with two rejections followed by one more acceptance of poetry I submitted back in October.
Sure the rejections stung, they always seem to get to me a bit. But my little pity-party didn’t last too long. Looking forward to my author copies of Chicken Soup always buoys my spirits. And if I need to guarantee an “acceptance,” I simply sit down and write a new post for this blog. So far, I’ve accepted every one of my posts that I’ve submitted.
But I have another perspective on which to I draw upon concerning rejection: Being the “rejecter.”
A few months ago I sent out a call for writer’s in NCW who would like to co-author my online serial. Three members met the deadline with their 500 word version of what the next episode of Her Father’s Wooden Leg should be.
Grateful that I wasn’t rejected in the manner of no one wanting to join me on this journey, I now faced the very task of editors, agents and publishers: rejecting a writer’s hard work.
I read each selection once to get a feel for its overall pacing, tone and writing style. Then I did a second read, thinking of how I would work with this episode and how it might inspire me to create the next episode. Two of the stories included something inside the wooden leg, a possibility I hadn’t considered. I was intrigued. The first cut had been made.
A third read through of the two remaining pieces let me focus on my gut feeling about each version. Which one fit the best? Which one felt like I could most easily work with the author? I made my initial decision and then let it sit for a couple of days.
A fourth and final reading confirmed my selection (and final rejection.) I was excited to begin moving forward, but first I needed to do one more thing: send a “thanks, but no thanks,” (aka rejection) to the other two writers. This was harder than I anticipated.
It shouldn’t have been that difficult. In the past I was a competitive soccer coach and had spoken with 12, 13 and 14 year old girls and their parents to tell them they hadn’t made the top team. I’d survived that. Why would this be any more difficult?
But it was. A day or two more passed, my guilt increasing daily. The writer’s deserved to know the fate of their submissions. Finally, I scripted a brief email to the two writers whose work I didn’t select. It took more courage to hit the enter/send key then, than it did when I submit my own work, fearful of being rejected.
So now, when I receive an email concerning a piece I’ve submitted, I pause to remember how I felt sending out those two rejections hoping that the writer’s didn’t take it personally.
With that thought fresh in my mind, I open the email with anticipation and maybe a little dread. More often than not it stings a little bit. Sometimes there’s an encouraging note, but most often it’s a simple “thanks, but no thanks.”
The next day, I’ll revisit the piece, revise (if necessary) and research to find another place that my writing can call home.
Have you been in the position to reject another author’s work? If so, how did you deal with it?