Monday, May 27, 2013

At a recent writers' critique group meeting, one of the members read a short-short, sometimes referred to as flash fiction (although this was a true story). She had submitted it to the one market she thought would be a perfect fit, but she received a rejection letter. So she came to the group with this question: "How do I fix the story?"

It was already a powerful, moving piece, so I told her she should ask a different question: "Where else can I submit it?"

There are four main ways I respond to rejection, whether as a writer or in other aspects of life, and I bet many of you have had the same experience. Here they are:

  • As a writer, I submit material that isn't ready and then blame the publisher for not recognizing my "brilliant" work. In life, I sometimes blame others for rejection rather than asking whether my actions were ill-thought-out and easily misunderstood.
  • Better is the opposite response. As a writer, I may realize that my material wasn't ready to be submitted and use the rejection as an opportunity to rework and improve it. In life, I may realize that the fault lies at least partly with me and attempt to correct the situation.
  • Then there are those instances where I submit a polished manuscript but respond to a rejection letter by asking, "how do I fix?" when the correct question is, "where else can I submit it?" This was my friend's reaction. In life, I may try to "fix" something by conforming to the world's standards when the correct response is to reject those standards and keep going.
  • And sometimes I do. As a writer, I may recognize that I had submitted a polished manuscript and look for other places to submit it. Only God can create something that is perfect, and there comes a time in any manuscript when I need to stop making changes and simply keep submitting. In life, I need to accept that I will never be perfect in this world but press on anyway.
How do you respond to rejection?

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