I got my very first rejection letter today.
This is a new experience. I’ve been rejected before, for other jobs and whatever, but this was the first fiction story I’ve submitted to anything. Hence the first rejection letter I’ve ever received.
It was a simple, two line email that I made the mistake of reading before I was fully prepared to deal with anything today. [read: before I was properly caffeinated.] My initial reaction was to cry and to ostrich myself away forever. I didn’t do either of those. My second reaction was to begin drinking immediately. But there was no alcohol in the house. I have since purchased some beer but have not started drinking yet, as I don’t really feel the need to drown my sorrows with alcohol anymore.
I started to think about what this rejection means for me.
Well, first off, it means that I wasn’t what the publisher was looking for. And that’s okay. This was a short story that I had put an amazing effort into and yes, I’m pretty proud of how it turned out. I am smitten with my own ending. Definitely not something that I usually write, so that’s a plus.
Secondly, it means that this story now has several options.
I could edit a bit more and submit it elsewhere, I could add more to the story and make it an actual novel (or novella if I’m feeling lazy) and submit it elsewhere, considering that it’s a zombie story, I could probably get it cleared by ZT and have it printed in several instalments in the magazine, I could publish it on my blog for free reading…
The possibilities are not limited to what a single publisher is looking for. I am really only limited by my own time and imagination and drive to actually work on this story.
And that’s all right, too.
I have a bunch of other projects on the go. Some are writing projects, some are personal projects, some are crafts, some are gifts… I’m really just limited by my own personal priorities and promises.
So now that I can look at this rejection with a clear head, and a more reasonable amount of caffeine in my bloodstream, what am I getting out of it?
Well, for one, I’m a little less cocky about it today. I went into submitting this story with full on confidence. I was utterly convinced that I was gonna get accepted and this would be my first official story published. My ego has taken a beating today and it’s making me seriously reconsider my other works. Maybe I need a little more fine-tuning? Maybe I need to be more creative? Maybe I need to streamline my work? (I dunno how that last one is possible. I write screenplays that have no unnecessary scenes because I’m so to-the-point!)
I also realized that inflating my ego and being cocky is awesome. It makes the period of mourning about rejection a lot less brutal than it could be. I mean, I’m not crying. I’m not drunk. I’m sitting at my computer and I’m about to get back to work on another project while I decide what to do about this one. Being as cocky as I get means that the rejection hits hard, but I can bounce back pretty easily. It could be a lot worse. I don’t deal with rejection well. You should see me when I get dumped. That’s a horrible sight.
And is also a little bit off topic.
It means that I know that I can handle a rejection without spiralling into despair and madness (any more than I already am, anyway.)
It means that I have a story that could theoretically be submitted elsewhere and is fine tuned enough that I’m comfortable sending it out.
The point is that I have made peace with the rejection, understand that there are other fish int he sea, so to speak. I’m not angry, it’s part of the game, and this is a game that I plan to keep playing for a long time. Writing is my craft and is going to be my full-time job. This story just wasn’t meant to be the kick start I needed. And that’s cool, too.
I dunno why I was rejected. I just wasn’t what they were looking for this time.
But that’s awesome, right? Because now I know that there are worse things than being rejected.