On rejections

I got a rejection for one of my short stories the other day. This one was kinder than many: it went to the lengths of explaining why the e-zine had rejected me. That’s the sort of rejection any writer craves: not just having someone tell you that you need to keep trying, but actually giving you some pointers in the right direction. More often, of course, you will encounter simple form rejections, ones that just notify you that your work has not made it. That’s more painful, especially if you have been waiting several months or more.


But rejections are an integral part of writing. A necessary part of writing.

First off, they show that, however bad, you are actually getting your finished work out there. Not only are they a sign you’ve completed something (rather than sketching out a vague plan and leaving it), but also that your work has actually left your hard drive. That alone increases your chances of getting published, because although the odds may seem long, they are better than your chances of getting published if you don’t submit.

Secondly, and more importantly, they make you a better writer. You don’t improve by having people fawn over your work, you improve by having it shot down. Tinker with it, then submit it to somewhere else – Wise Phuul was rewritten countless times during the thirty-five rejections I got from literary agents and publishers, a process that was ultimately to make it a better book. The rejections I continue to get on my short stories may be frustrating (I like to think they’re good stories), but they force me to rewrite and keep going. And so much of writing is just that – the ability to keep going even when it looks like you’re going nowhere.


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