Monday, November 18, 2013

Accept or Reject - Who Decides?

Serious writers know that collecting rejection letters is part of the process. If good writers have never been rejected, they simply haven’t sent anything out yet to test the waters. Unfortunately the rejections we receive are polite, generic, and rarely give insight into why our submissions didn’t make it. We’re left to guess – was it weak writing, too wordy, too boring, too…..? Take your pick. In 1983 I was more naïve about submissions being accepted. If what I wrote was good, of course it would be accepted. That was my mindset when I submitted a short story to a magazine in New York. When a form rejection letter came a few weeks later, I was not only disappointed, but puzzled. I re-read my story and couldn’t figure out a way to change it to make it better, assuming it wasn’t liked by whoever read it. Nothing in the rejection letter was helpful. I put the story aside for several weeks, then read it again. I still liked it just the way it was. The old saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, ran through my mind. It also occurred to me that a large magazine would have more than one reader. Perhaps if I submitted my story again, it would be received by a different reader, and this “beholder” might have a different opinion. It worked! This time I received a nice acceptance letter, plus a contract to sign and return, which included the amount I’d be paid. I was quite happy as this was my first paid writing, not counting the column inches I was paid for in high school when I wrote for my local newspaper. A copy of the magazine was sent to me when the story was printed, and hardly a word was changed. I still have it. Did I ever do this again when I received a rejection letter? No. I’m not sure why. Maybe I didn’t want to press my luck. If there’s a moral to this story, it might be that rejections, as well as acceptances, are subjective for the most part. Try to learn from the rejections and don’t be too “in the clouds” for an acceptance. Just as sure as someone loves your work, someone else won’t. We all can name highly successful books that were rejected many times before they were finally published. Just keep working at your craft, submitting when ready, and see what happens. Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up.

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