By Ellen Leventhal


So everyone is all excited about it being a new year. We’re ready to lose those pounds, organize that office, and write the Great American Novel. Or in my case, the fairly successful picture book. I have several new works in various phases of completion lounging around on my hard drive. They’re all there just hanging out waiting for someone to show them the light of day. Some of these are actually not terrible. Some are even better than “not terrible.” So why aren’t they sitting on some editor’s desk or uploaded to CreateSpace? Is it fear? Is it disorganization? Is it utter confusion? Or is it that old demon, fear of rejection? Frankly, I’ll take two from column A and two from column B. Yep, it’s all of this.

Of course, as a writer (and some days I think I am just a big old fake when I call myself a writer), I face rejection a lot. And I’m ok with it…usually. My critique buddies are truthful and let me know what works and what doesn’t work. I love that. I could wallpaper part of my office with rejection slips from publishers. That’s ok too. But sometimes our stories are our babies, and the stark reality of them not being perfect hits home as hard as little Johnny not being at the top of the class. Of course, we still love Johnny, but we really thought he’d be Valedictorian. Or at least be the number one reader in kindergarten.

Every once in a while you think you have a piece that hits it out of the park. But then it turns out it’s a foul ball. Notice I didn’t say an out. It’s a foul ball, and you get another chance. You just have to check your stance, get mentally prepared for what’s to come, and go at it again. In writer’s terms, that’s revision. And for me, that’s not a problem at all. I can revise ‘till the cows come home. But getting to the next step of sending the manuscript out for the world to see is still difficult for me. Yes, I have published works, and yes I blog a lot. But it isn’t easy. I get a knot in my stomach every time I open an email with a critique. My heart beats double time when I see something from a publisher. But hey, I’ve done it before, so I can do it again. And if I strike out three times in this game, there’s always tomorrow.

So, living with rejection as a companion, isn’t always fun. But there are successes too. And they make my heart beat even faster.

You don’t have to be a writer to deal with rejection. We all deal with it in some way. How do you deal with rejection? I’d love to hear your thoughts.









One thought on “Rejection

  1. I think rejection is easier to take when you have a lot of projects going on at once. I wrote a picture book over the summer and sent that out to publishers (gasp!). And as we all know, no news could be good news, but it’s probably bad news. 🙂 But am I down about it? No. Not really. I’m too busy thinking about the cozy novel I just launched or the next book I’ll write or the promotion I need to schedule for my backlist, etc., etc.

    When you have a lot of books out (like you, Ellen!), then it’s easier to step back and look at them more like products and less like babies. Although that feeling doesn’t totally go away. Your work is still a part of you, and it’s tough when it’s judged and found lacking. But having other titles to pin your hopes on softens the blow.

    To use your analogy, if little Johnny isn’t valedictorian, maybe his younger brother or older sister will be!!!

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