Monday, April 14, 2014

The Flip Side of Rejection

By Dean Miller

After a great couple of weeks to end 2013, including an acceptance email, I opened 2014 with two rejections followed by one more acceptance of poetry I had 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. And if I need to guarantee an acceptance, I simply sit down and write a new post for my own blog. So far I've accepted every one of my submitted posts.
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 writers in NCW who would like to co-author an online serial. Three members met the deadline with their 500 word version of what the next episode of my work in progress 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 one. Two of the stories included details 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 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?

Dean Miller is the author of And Then I Smiled: Reflections of a Life Not Yet Complete, now available for sale on Amazon and CreateSpace. Follow Dean on Twitter at @deankmiller


Patricia Stoltey said...

I haven't had to reject a writer's work for publication. That would be tough.

Dean K Miller said...

Pat: it was an odd feeling for sure. But it also taught me a lot about writing, seeing what fits, making tough choices and seeing the writing world from the "other side."

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