Any real writer should have a drawer or an e-mail folder full of them. Rejections. The dreaded and unavoidable evil for all writers. They crush hope and dreams, they hurt, and they are your self confidence’s worst enemy. Whether it’s a standard letter full of useless but polite phrases or a personal note from an editor, who took time to point out what he or she did and didn’t like, it sucks to open a letter or e-mail that says you’re not good enough. Because it’s personal. You pour your heart and soul into your work, and then someone just says “no thanks. Next”. It blows. No question about it.
But. And there is a big but. If you hope to make it in the writing business, then rejections are part of the game. You need to take whatever criticism the rejecting editors (hopefully!) give you and learn from it. Use it to move on. Mope for a few hours or a day at the most, and then let it be a kick in the ass so you work even harder. Sometimes it’s not just a cliché to say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. In writing it’s true. If you don’t let the rejections get you down, they will make you stronger. They are valuable experience.
Besides, a drawer or folder full of rejections proves that you’ve tried. That you’re not one of those people who dream about writing a book but never get off their ass and actually do it. Rejections mean that you’re out there chasing your dream and that you believe in yourself even when random editors and publishers don’t. And that’s what you need to succeed, because if you don’t believe in your work, no one else ever will.
One day, when it’s not a rejection in the mail, that coveted acceptance letter will mean so much more to you because it’s really something you’ve fought for. We’ve all heard of the bestselling authors who submitted their work to a legion of publishers before finding the right home for a novel that went on to do extremely well.
Personally, I treasure my rejection letters. Not right when I receive them, but after a while they become symbols of a strength and a confidence I never thought I had. They become battle scars, they become invaluable experience, and they are what makes me celebrate acceptance letters even fiercer than I would if I hadn’t tasted rejection. I don’t wish for rejection letters, but I don’t let them stop me either.
And remember – battle scars are sexy.