Healing after rejection

If you witnessed my little breakdown yesterday, thanks for tolerating it. If you commented on Facebook, Twitter, via email or on this blog, THANK YOU.

It’s pretty rare that I whimper publicly, or post anything extremely personal. But yesterday, I felt at the end of my rope, a place I seem to be returning to regularly of late, so I feel the need to explain: This was no regular rejection letter. This rejection came after an initial pass on my manuscript, but with an invitation to do rewrites. I reworked the manuscript for months, resubmitted it, and then waited nearly three months for a response, for a total of nine months before this “no.”

The letter was extremely gentle, but still hurt like #%&@.

And it got me wondering… how do you heal after a rejection?

1) Gather your writing friends. Hearing that they’ve been there, done that is helpful. Misery loves company, if only to remind you that you’re not alone. Family can be helpful too, but sometimes hit or miss. My mother likes to point out how many rejections J.K. Rowling got. Then she tells me to self-publish, and that’s followed by, “just put it out of your mind.” Well-meaning? Absolutely. Helpful? Not so much. I love you though, Mom.

2) Give yourself a treat. Life is hard enough even without rejection crap. This is when having your mom in town is especially helpful. After I went sulking  back up to my office, she made accra, which was one of my all time favorite things to eat when I was a child. Still is.

3) Be real. This is no time to try to be noble and think you should be above comparisons to other writers, or beyond wanting acceptance. What else are you going to measure yourself against, if not the achievements of others? Plus, you’re not writing in your journal. You’re writing to make books. Acceptance is the crux of the thing. Everyone wants to be accepted! So give yourself a break and save being noble for another day. You’re human. Feel your feelings.

4) Go ahead and get angry. For me, that was the impetus to do some research and send out a couple of new queries. For you that might look like screaming at the top of your lungs. You do what you gotta do.

5) Move on. I ended the day, still not feeling great, but working on a new manuscript. Today I feel better, and tomorrow I’ll be better still. The thing to remember is: this too shall pass.


10 thoughts on “Healing after rejection

  1. Tracey says:

    Thanks Monique. This isn’t my first rejection and I’m sure it won’t be my last. It was just a particularly hard one. But yes, I will continue to work. I just checked out your blog. I love it. What a great idea! You’re putting your work out there, too.

  2. Neeks says:

    Not the same, but thank you. On a blog no one ever says hey, that last story was AWful, I’ve seen better writing on a cereal box, oh and don’t quit your day job.
    I applaud anyone who has the guts to actually write a novel and send it to an agent/publisher. That takes a huge step of faith.

  3. Karen says:

    Writers have to be risk-takers to send their stuff in — bravo for having the courage to do that.

    I find it helpful, when dealing with personal or professional problems, to remind myself of all the wonderful things I DO have. And then reminding myself how many people out there would consider themselves lucky to have what I have.

    Sorry about the rejection. I’ll add that Madeline L’Engle got rejected a lot too. Perhaps one day a young writer will tell her friend, “Hey, buck up, Tracey Baptiste got rejections before becoming a MEGA WATT STAR.”

  4. Tracey says:

    Thanks, Karen. Funny you should mention Madeleine since on yesterday’s post, Lena and I talked about what she’d advise me to do! You make a good point about looking at the stuff I do have. I’m sure a lot of other writers wonder why I’m grousing when I’ve already been published. I’m gonna take out all of my books and hug them. 🙂

  5. Cathy says:

    I applaud your courage, for it takes an inordinate amount of courage to both send your work out and send it out in the face of potential rejection. Though I’ve sent very little out yet, the rejection question for me is this: who am I writing for and why am I writing? Rejection or not, I write because I can’t not write, which means I write for myself. Keep the faith sister!

  6. Tracey says:

    Thanks Cathy.
    The good news about rejection is that we all get over it eventually, and it takes less and less time to move on the longer I’m in this business. I’m already almost over it today. Almost. 🙂

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