Joseph A. Pinto

barflypoet & author of dark fiction

Rejection sucks.

It sucks if you’re a child & your parents tell you no television!; it sucks if you’re a teenager & the pretty girl in school just turned you down; it sucks no matter what form rejection takes & what age you are when you’re forced to deal with it.  But rejection truly sucks when you’re a writer.

I just received a rejection for a story I wrote last second for an upcoming anthology.  Okay, maybe not last second, but I only had two weeks to pump a story out.  Hey, it was my decision to do so; I wanted the challenge of writing under a “deadline” and hoped to see how I would perform under the pressure.  On the plus side, I made myself proud.  I hunkered down & nailed my story.  I thought it was pretty solid.  I  had two nagging thoughts, however.  One: I felt my story just might not fit the anthology’s theme.  It would come down to a picky crapshoot, but I was willing to take my chances.  Two: I fleshed out one of my characters in some “slang dialect.”  In other words, I wanted him to sound like a country boy, so I wrote out his dialogue like a country boy.  I was happy with the end result; I thought it was effective enough without being excessive – I just didn’t know if it would be someone else’s cup of tea.  So I sent my story along, pleased that I rose to my own challenge and feeling pretty confident that I had as good a shot as anyone of being accepted for publication.

Days later, my rejection email came.  Ouch!!! 

Writing is so subjective, a lot like music.  What is one person’s feast is another person’s famine.  And unfortunately, beauty is often in the eye of the beholder.

Well, this particular story for this particular anthology came down to the very two points that gnawed at me.  The publication felt that the story didn’t quite fit the theme they were after.  I can live with that, especially when the editor wrote that he really started liking the story as a whole.  But then – slam on the brakes – my usage of that country boy dialect, and I quote, “spoiled the story.  Sorry, but we’re afraid it’s a pass.”

Rejection sucks.  No, not only that, it hurts.  A lot.  Thousands of people can praise you; you can have books flying off the shelves.  But rejection for a writer, whether via an editor, agent, reviewer or fan, stings.  At least it does for me.  How can it not?  You create something so personal, you leave so much of yourself across paper (or keyboard), that it’s impossible to feel otherwise.  And the thing is for writers, well, that’s your life.  Rejections.  Prepare yourself, baby, because all writers, good or bad, go through it.

But I’ll tell you what I do with my rejections.

I print them out, leave them atop my desk for a good week & do nothing but stare at it, as I’m staring at my latest one now.  See, the pain, the hurt, that goes away, because the fire burning in my belly for ultimate success consumes the “ouch” quickly.  Then I’ll file the rejections into my writing binder.  And I always put the rejections first and my accepted stories last.  Why?  It’s the first thing I want to see, so I’ll never forget, so I’ll never grow complacent.  If I ever reach the “promised land” as I dream myself achieving, then that pain and subsequent chip on my shoulder will be a  big part of what fuels me.

And to the editor of that publication (of course, I shall name no names), thank you for your honesty.  It is much appreciated.  You’ve allowed me to mature a bit more as a writer.

Baby, you make it hurt so good!

4 thoughts on “The Ouch! of writing

  1. Geoff Nelder says:

    All so true. And so many use a rubber stamp in their email that says, ‘Not for us at this time.’ But would you send it again later? No, you tweak, improve, polish then send it to another publisher hoping for them to be wise. Now and then one of our gems is accepted and it makes up for all those rejections. I don’t save them – they are logged in a spreadsheet, and on Duotrope submission tracker, then put out of mind.
    Good luck, Joseph, eventually your accepts will outrun the rejects.

  2. Yes, rejection always is painful! I just write an article on my blog about this – specifically rejection from those you love.

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