Friday, July 17, 2009

Rejection Rejection Letters

Rejection, rejection. It's a writer's worst enemy or is it? What can you do about rejection?
When I was an awkward teenager and the brunt of many children's sarcasm, my heart wore a sign that said "kick me for a reaction". Words of wisdom from my mother were, "Consider the source and forget it." If I could only have done that through my life, I might have done more good in the world. But these words to the yet unwise did not sink in until my adulthood after much pain and suffering.
While it's important to have your work critiqued, writers also need to view rejection through grace-colored glasses. What are the cardinal rules of criticism?
1. Consider the source. Is the source qualified to give counsel on the piece? How does this source's perspective affect his or her opinion?
2. If the source is qualified to critique and has a valid suggestion, open your ears and listen. Don't be stuck on your ideas and words so much that you elevate yourself as a diva or divo and relegate all others as inferior.
3. If your source is not qualified or has a world view that conflicts with yours, then take their criticism with a grain of salt. Apply any truth that you see (often when mud is flung, some will stick) and then bind your wounds and keep moving toward your goal. Don't wallow in the quagmire of self-pity. Redeem whatever you can and make it work. Otherwise move on to another idea.
4. Remember that God-ordained things have a destiny. Sometimes it is just not the season for the words you write or speak. When the time is right, if you are open to the possibilities and led by faith, the piece that was rejected will find it's way to the forefront. "Be not weary in well doing for in due season, you shall reap if you faint not." Galatians 6:9
5. Guard your attitude toward rejection. "You can please some of the people some of the time but you can't please all of the people all of the time." It is inevitable that rejection will come but we can't take it to heart too much. It will only defeat us. The other day after hearing about someone who applied for a car loan and received multiple rejections from banks, I decided to do reflect on what he did. He wrote rejection letters to those who rejected him. ) Caution. These letters ought never to be sent but to be shredded upon writing. They are done for the express purpose of catharsis only.
Here is what I would imagine a writer to put down on paper.
Dear Publisher,
You are only the 25th company to reject my submission in the last three months and I want you to know that I reject your rejection letter because published authors in the past have suffered hundreds of rejection letters before anyone with any sense had discovered that their words were gold. Surely, my manuscript is what you and every other editor wants to publish and you have somehow sent this letter in error.
Signed, My Circular File is Now a Boomerang. Thank you.
Dear Readers,
Perhaps you mistook me for my writing double, the hate mongerer, for surely if you listened to what I have posted, you will understand that my intent was to encourage and inspire and that I season my speech and writings with grace on purpose. Therefore, the rejection you are sending me in this complaint letter is to be placed under the "Complaint Department button", the trigger of a baited mouse trap, in Christian love of course.
Sincerely, Wounded Writer.
Of course, this is not really the attitude of a grace-filled Christian writer but there is an element of truth in my sarcasm. We must learn to look at rejection through the eyes of faith.
Here is the attitude Christians need in regards to both receiving and giving criticism whether it be it a rejection letter or personal rejection :
Be open and humble.
James 3:17, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."
Be kind.
1 Peter 4:9 "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing".
Be willing to learn.
Proverbs 1:5, "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels..."
Seek discernment and discretion.
Proverbs 2:9-11, "Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path. When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee."
Don't be afraid of mankind. Remember Who is pleased and Who is with you. Hebrews 13:6 "So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
Don't give up. "Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord for as much as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord..."
I can't leave the page without discussing Forgiveness. When you are offended, whether through the rejection of others or the perception that you've been wronged, you cannot hold grudges and be successful. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. Yes, you need to forgive an editor or publisher who rejects you. In your rejection of their rejection, add a note of forgiveness-make a choice. You'll feel much better about it, too and your interaction with the next editor/publisher will not be so harried. Keep in mind that God's mercies are new every morning. Do you want to follow His example?
Last but not least, DO NOT MAIL THAT REJECTION REJECTION LETTER. Discuss it with God and then shred it or burn it. Wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Tomorrow is another day.


JoJo Tabares said...

Great post! I think it applies to writers as well as life in general. When I was young, I wore my heart on my sleeve and everything hurt me deeply. Somehow as I became a faith filled Christian, I began to be able to follow your mom's advice. Was my mom's too. :D One day a friend who had been an editor sometime BC (Before Children) responded to my request for critique of my brand new business's website. She was very sweet about it but, in effect, totally trashed it. Some of it was because I was HTML Illiterate and some due to finances but all of it was true! Some I knew and some I didn't and all of it was helpful. She was worried that her honest and expert advice would cause me to walk away from our budding friendship but we are good friends today and my website looks TONS better!

Damaria Senne said...

Really good post. The kind I should file away and refer to when I get rejection.

Terri Tiffany said...

Great post! I love all the points. I think my biggest challenge as a writer was learning to be thick-skinned and take what came back to me as a learning experience. Not to say I still don't have times but I can move forward faster than before.

AmberInGlass said...

Thank you for this, great and well thought out posts. Everything you mentioned are very good points that we as people need to keep in mind. There are going to be a lot of things in life that are discouraging, but if you hold on to them and let them weigh you do you'll only be hurting yourself. Forgiveness and moving forward is the only way to go.

Rebecca A Emrich said...

As always great post, very deep and thought provoking.

BeckyJoie said...

Thank you all for your kind remarks. Your interaction is what makes this blog so fun! I'm happy to have you here. I learn so much from you all.

Uninvoked said...

It's funny, rejection of my writing doesn't bother me. I can get a thousand rejection letters and not really care. I might feel a tiny ping if I got rejected from a publisher I really wanted to be accepted by, or from an editor I particularly admire, but not most of the time. You would think I'd be more reactive considering every other form of rejection feels so crushing.

My noveling blog, Uninvoked, has a character that deals with rejection every step of the way. I guess I didn't realize it when I started, but she's my way of dealing with not being wanted by everyone.

BeckyJoie said...

Uninvoked, it's true. We all have our own ways of working through rejection. Thanks for posting a comment. Nice to have you here.

Ron Richardson said...

Just what I needed. Thanks!

iWrite - 2 - Know said...

We are pleased to confer upon you the “Friendship Chain” award. For more go to

From the desk of the iW2K team

Damaria Senne said...

I don't mind so much when rejection is from a stranger (company I haven't worked with before) but I do have a thin skin when it comes from people I've done business before. I feel as if I failed them and myself, and should do better. yet, as you say, rejection is part of a writer's life.