Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No More Rejections!

Post by Kerrie
Rejection.

It is such a harsh word. It is definite, direct and always seen as negative. When I think of rejection, I think of someone being left at the alter, a child being ignored by her parents, or a guy asking a girl to dance and she laughs in his face. That to me is rejection.

Yet as writers, we toss it the word around  like a ball and even wear it as a badge of honor.

I want to know when a "no thank you" from an editor, agent or publisher became synonymous with rejection.  I don't see them as the same thing at all.

Imagine you are at a nice restaurant and the waiter asks if you would like to order the chef's special; Chicken breast stuffed with blanched fresh spinach leaves and Boursin cheese,  sauteed Shiitake mushrooms and baked asparagus with balsamic butter sauce. You think it sounds it good, but you want something else, so you say, "no thank you."

When the waiter goes in the kitchen to put the order in and the chef finds out you ordered something else besides her special, do you think she screams and drops to her knees, sobbing, wondering what she did wrong and agonizing over the fact that you didn't want what she was offering?

I don't think so. It boils down to the fact that you were offered something you didn't want, so you responded politely with a "no thank you." It wasn't anything personal, you just didn't feel like eating chicken.

Isn't that the same thing that happens in publishing? We send our work out to see if an agent, editor or publisher is interested and they respond with a "yes" or a "no thank you."

They are not rejecting us or our work, they are simply responding to us. They know what they want and not everyone is going to offer them what they are looking for. Rejection can beat us down, but a response is just that--a response. There is no judgement attached to it, making it easy to move on. It is much easier to tell our critique group, "I got a response from an editor today..."

I say we start a movement or even a revolution stopping writers from using the word rejection! Let's call it like it is (a response) and stop being martyrs for the sake of our art. I think we would all be happier as a result.

Now all we need is a catchy slogan....

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9 comments:

Dean K Miller said...

This is such a great piece, and a view that is sorely needed in the writing world.

The recepient is merely choosing not to accept what we've offered. They have not rejected us, or our ideas. If a piece to a puzzle doesn't fit in the first place you try, we don't reject the piece, or the puzzle as a whole. We merely look for somewhere else to put it, somewhere else that it will fit.

That is what editors, agents and publishers are doing, too. Just trying to find a piece that fits.

Thanks for this. I'm working on the catchy slogan now...

Edna Pontillo said...

I really appreciate your thinking here (and of course you!) Editors preferences and needs are different from person to person and from time to time, just as our own are. So the restaurant order is an excellent analogy. Thanks for helping me reframe my thinking before I send off my first ever query letter.

Kerrie said...

Dean, I love the puzzle analogy. I can't wait to hear what catchy slogan you come up with.
Edna, good luck with your first query and I can't wait to hear the editor's response!

Faith E. Hough said...

Point well made. (I confess to being one of those who's bragged about "rejections" from time to time.) I've never taken negative responses personally, but I can see how it is easy to do so...and changing the semantics would be a start at eliminating that.

Nathan Lowell said...

I'm with you. "No more rejections!"

I stopped querying in 2009. That cut down the "No, thank yous" a great deal.

Yeah, I have a great publisher who handles my novels but I didn't query them, either. For the rest of my non-novel work, I self-publish.

It's more like a restaurant where the chef hangs out the carte and people stop and eat or not. The "no thank yous" aren't even an issue because as long as they try *something* and enjoy it, I'm a happy guy.

Perhaps they'll come back tomorrow and try the fish. If not, there are a lot of other restaurants and I'm sure they'll find something they'll like.

Janie B said...

I like your attitude. That's a good way to look at it. It's too personal otherwise. Not rejection, just no, thank you. I like it.

Andrea Mack said...

Kerrie, this is such a great way to look at responses to our writing! I recently received some very speedy "no thank yous" and in a way, I appreciate it, because now I know it wasn't what they were looking for.

I think sometimes it's the whole time factor that makes it harder. After you wait for months for a response, all the while hoping, and then get a "no thank you", it's somehow harder to let go of the rejected feeling.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good post, Kerrie. My thinking is that rejections are badges of honor. They are the proof that we're out there writing, querying, submitting.

I must admit, though, I miss the old days when rejections came by snail mail, often with a personal note of encouragement written across the form letter. That's a whole lot better than the popular response today: "If you haven't heard from us in six weeks, we're not interested."

Kerrie said...

Pat, I see what you are saying that they can be a badge of honor, because if you are not submitting work, you can't get a "response" from an editor. I just think many times writers become discouraged because they keep getting "rejected"

Think about it, in what other profession is the term rejected use. If you don't make a team we say you didn't make the cut. In acting, you didn't get the part...
I think we need to change our thinking.

Plus, I too miss snail mail. At least I got exercise going to the mailbox. :-)

Andrea, I know, the whole time thing can make you crazy.

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