Trust me, I know a little bit about this (okay, smartass, so maybe I know more than a little bit), and I can tell you that as a writer, when you've poured your heart and soul into your work, only to have someone you've never met send you a form letter or email that is little more than a politely phrased "Meh," is disheartening, to say the least. It feels personal, somehow, though many rejections will tell you it isn't. To the new writer, especially, even the most polite decline can feel like a rejection of you, your writing, your entire way of life.
Here's the thing: it really isn't personal, most times. In fact, from a certain perspective, rejection can be good for you. Below, are a couple of ways to gain from rejection.
Develop a thicker skin
Rejection is a sure-as-death-and-taxes reality for most writers. Until you're where King, Grisham, Rowling, and others of that ilk are, you can take rejection to the bank (where, of course it will be rejected, heh). Learning to deal with that fact professionally is all a part of the business. It can even be a motivating force. Stephen King, in his days before Carrie, put all of his rejections on a spike in a wall. He'd filled two by the time he was published. When you've learned to shrug it off and go back to work, you've made one of your biggest steps towards becoming a published author. Those who don't are the never-rans stalking the literary periphery like a child with no money, staring longingly through a store window at a bright, shiny toy. Determine that you're not quitting, and then...don't quit.
Become a better writer
Probably the leading cause of rejection (other than your writing was sub-par, that is) is that yours was one of about a thousand submissions that magazine/publisher has received, and yours simply wasn't picked. If you're lucky, and your story is "almost there," you'll get a rare note from the editor saying why your story wasn't chosen, and how you can improve it. Whether you do or not, when your story is rejected, you have a golden opportunity to re-read it, and maybe see for yourself why it wasn't chosen. Grammatical errors you missed? The storyline not make as much sense as you thought it did? You sent your sparkly vampire story to a magazine that threatens death to anyone submitting anything even hinting of Twilight? Not only do rejections give you the opportunity to make your work better, they help teach you how not to get rejected in the first place.
Remember: for every writer out there who's become a household name, there are about a thousand of us still struggling to publish our first story. You want to get where they are, you have to go where they've been; wading through the shark and gator-infested slush piles of countless editors before you finally reach the golden shores of the published byline. It takes dedication, a thick skin, and the determination to do whatever it takes to get there.
It worked for King, Straub, Barker, Grisham and a host of others. If it's good enough for them, then it's good enough for me.
What about you?
Till next time,