Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness in Writing – Day 6: Rejection

It’s easy to focus on the negative in the world around us. In observation of a month many dedicate to counting their blessings, I’ve started a 30-day challenge in which I’ll focus on one aspect of my writing life for which I am thankful. I’d love to have you join by sharing about something that has blessed your own writing life in the comments section below. - Jen

I’ll never forget the day I finished the first draft of my first book. I was elated. I was inspired. I was ready to take on the world. I combed through my Writer’s Market searching for the ideal agent to represent me. I spent hours crafting my first query letters. I checked and rechecked names and addresses to make sure I had everything right. Then I dropped an entire stack into the mail and waited for one of them to ask to see more pages.

Every single one of the letters came back with the dreaded canned rejection. I’d never felt like more of a failure in my life.

Fast-forward seven years. Today I can honestly say I am truly thankful for those rejections. I learned more from that experience than I ever did in a classroom. Because of those rejections I learned that just because a particular project isn’t accepted doesn’t mean I am incapable of writing anything of value. Those impersonal notes showed me how much I still had to learn about the craft of writing. I discovered the wisdom of sitting at the feet of those who had already gone through the early learning stages and could offer advice in how to avoid making the same mistakes.

Most importantly, I found that I have the drive and the desire to continue moving forward. That even without a book deal I can write, and do enjoy even the most infuriating aspects of it.

I am so thankful that story never made it into print. It would have been a disaster. Now I have gained experience where before I had none. I have a better idea of what it is I hope to accomplish with my writing. And I’m using these skills to dust off and rewrite the story I started so many years ago.

I have no guarantee it will be picked up this time either, but I know now that I can handle the rejections. I can also look for new lessons to be learned from those short, cryptic responses.


  1. There is something exceedingly beneficial to the first time someone tells you that you aren't nearly as good as you think you are. It gives you thicker skins, helps you realize whether you've got what it takes to face that rejection again and again and, lastly, it toughens you up not only to face more rejection, but to look at what you wrote honestly and figure out how to fix it.

    Of course, it still sucks when they don't want what you wrote but at least you can know you're learning a valuable lesson from it... ;-)

  2. So very true, Hillary! Rejection will always sting, but when you can take yourself out of the situation and look back at the work to see where it can be improved, it's not just your writing that gets better!