It is always intriguing to find a hand written envelope in the mail! It’s not a bill, or a circular, or a campaign brochure; it seems to be an actual letter from somebody you know. Well I perceived such a letter in yesterday’s mail and I was excited, for a moment. Something about the handwriting seemed too familiar, and then it dawned on me. It was a ‘self-addressed, stamped’ envelope I had sent to Another Chicago Magazine with a little story I was hoping they might buy, and it was only coming home to roost. “My very first rejection letter!” I crowed to my wife and son.
Exciting, yes, but only because the hope still lingers that I may one day get my very first acceptance letter too. In the meantime, the primary response is really the feeling of being rejected. What to do with that? Even though right now I am only 0 for 1, I have been thinking about what it takes to handle rejection well, and I have come up with six ideas:
When I was sure that there wasn’t a check in my envelope (which came easy, knowing anyway that the compensation for the story would only have been a copy of the mag. with my story inside, and the chance to claim I was published), I did what comes naturally to me: I made a dumb joke! The dumber the better (is apparently my motto). Laugh at yourself! Do you really expect every thing you try to be a raging success? Be glad for the good results when they inevitably happen, but give yourself a break when the inevitable failures come up.
Ok, so this magazine isn’t ‘buying’ your article right now. Learn what you can from this rejection. Is it a matter of timing? Applicability? Are they overwhelmed with submissions? Maybe it’s the wrong place for your writing. If you get any kind of written explanation, take it to heart! At the bottom of my form letter rejection (note to self: a form letter rejection means that I am not the only one getting one!) was a short scribbled message that included; “Sorry we can’t take this one.” I took that to mean only that my story was inappropriate for their audience.
4 Try Again
The alternative is what? To give up? Not really an option. Don’t give up. You have good reason to think you can write. Many people have encouraged you, and are hoping for your success. It feels bad enough to miss the boat with your submission; don’t add to the trauma by scuttling the boat as well!
3 Accept the Truth
Honesty demands that this possibility gets some air time. Maybe more people have shrugged and politely commented on your typing skills than have raved over your content. Perhaps you are trying too hard to produce what can never grow from the soil of your skills (yeah, like that). But once you can admit that you’re toiling in the wrong field you can find your true niche and reduce, probably not eliminate, the criticism. Right now I’m 0 for 1, and that’s ok. If I get to 0 for 100, or 500, perhaps then I will take the hint and move on to ditch digging.
2 Let the World Suffer
If you’re still enjoying the challenge of writing every day, and your confidence holds strong even though you can’t seem to sell a syllable, then keep at it! Not every star gets discovered, and sometimes the country’s best athlete has to stay on the farm. If you had gotten the lucky break that some get, you know your novel would have ended up on every high schooler’s reading list. So if you are satisfied with your work, and can afford to write only for yourself, too bad for the world. It’ll just have to get by without your work after all.
1 Trust in God
Which leads to the ultimate resource for help and comfort in any situation! Know that God loves you and cares for you no matter what. He has given you some major gifts that you can discover and enjoy as well as use to bless all those you can reach. Maybe millions will be impressed with your style and your vision; or you will have to be satisfied ministering to a closer circle. In either case, God would want you to know that His gifts to you, are your gifts to share as far or as near as possible.