Look for the Good News in Your Writing

Monday, April 10, 2023

It's easy to get down on yourself about rejections. From writing gigs to literary magazine submissions, I have gotten far more rejections than acceptances in my writing career. 

However, every now and then, a positive rejection comes in that makes you feel that all is not lost in your writing journey.

I had that recently with a short story of mine that has been rejected countless times. In fact, in the last few months, I wondered if maybe I should change something about it. Was it too long? Was it too bizarre of a concept? Was it not bizarre enough? Was it bad to set the story in an office?

And then recently, I got this rejection:

"We're incredibly sorry for leaving you waiting for so long! And thank you for submitting your story to [REDACTED] Unfortunately, we are unable to accept it for publication. That said, we found this to be a well-written piece, and we hope you will share your work with us again!"

A well-written piece? Are you kidding me? 

YOU LIKE ME? YOU REALLY LIKE ME? (Kudos to anyone who knows that classic Oscar thank-you speech)

One positive rejection can mean a world of difference. 

They don't always come, though. Sometimes, you have to rely on previous knowledge of your own writing journey as the momentum that pushes you along. When rejections come, you need to remind yourself, "I can do this! I've done it before. I can do this again."

Sometimes the only positive you can rely upon is knowing that you love to write. Remember that feeling? The love of storytelling? 

If you have journeyed far away from your enjoyment of writing, don't be afraid to put all those fancy goals aside and learn to enjoy the process again. No more word counts. No more deadlines. Just enjoy it again. That alone can give you momentum for when writing becomes a mud-filled slog. 

Nicole Pyles is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. When she's not hunting down the right word, she's talking to God, reviewing books on her writing blog, watching movies, hanging out with family, and daydreaming. Her work has been featured in Ripley's Believe it or Not, WOW! Women on Writing, The Voices Project, Sky Island Journal, and Arlington Literary Journal. Her poetry was also featured in the anthology, Dear Leader Tales. Read her musings at WorldofMyImagination.com.


Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Ugh. Rejection letters. Although, I have to admit that form rejections just don't bother me that much. To me that just says, this person didn't connect with this piece.

But you do start to wonder.

I'm so glad that you got a rejection that helped keep you going re: this particular story. And I'm glad that an editor took the time to write a personal note. All it takes is a moment to buoy someone's spirit!

Angela Mackintosh said...

That's a positive letter, and it's so nice they pointed out how well-written it is! I agree. :)

I wish editors would tell you WHY they chose not to accept it. I think the only publisher who has told me why they are rejecting a piece is Under the Sun literary magazine, which was so helpful. And in my case anyway, it usually isn't a general disconnection, but a specific craft element--threads not connecting, not going deep enough with interiority, or themes not being fully realized, stuff like that. On the other side of the desk, for me as an editor, it always comes down to the "So what?" question. It can be a compelling piece, but if there isn't a larger theme then what's the point?

Your piece has a larger theme, and I have a good feeling it'll be picked up soon. :)

I agree that sometimes the whole querying and submitting process takes the fun out of writing. But we have to do it! I make time for fun generative periods only and then submitting periods. And... Sally Field for the quote! :)

Renee Roberson said...

I'm so glad they took the time to give you the positive feedback! As a former magazine editor (which I know is not the same thing!) sometimes it just comes down to whether or not a piece ties in with their upcoming or current themes. The fact that they asked you to keep sharing your work is a huge win and keep them high on your list!

I personally love all your stories and think you should consider putting together an anthology and selling it! I'm thinking about doing that with some of mine and I don't have nearly as many stories as you do.

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