Rejection slips should not come as a surprise to any serious writer, though they never cease to annoy and disappoint. Who are those people, anyway, to reject my writing?!
Choose Your Target
In a society that has evolved to where “the bottom line” is all that matters, rejection slips are part of being a writer. Publishers and editors often have themes and think they know what they want to illuminate those themes, but the truth is they don’t know what they want until they see it. While they’re looking, much good, as well as bad, writing gets bounced. One caveat, of course, is never send them the kind of material they never publish! If you picked their contact information out of Writer’s Market without reading anything they’ve published, it will be pretty obvious to them that’s what you did. Don’t waste their time or yours.
Writers are extraordinarily sensitive and in tune with those aspects of human society, both good and bad, that have the greatest potential for building up people’s self-esteem and for shredding it. Rejection slips are among the shredders. Keep them just long enough to prove to IRS that you’re seriously pursuing your profession, then paper the walls of your office with them, or even better, use them to line the parakeets’ cage.
Writers participate but also observe, record and put it out there!
Most of us are writers because we’re a little different. We don’t march to someone else’s drum any longer than we’re forced to, and sometimes, not even then. Some are fortunate to take the best of what their culture has taught them and interpret the nuances for further good. Others have learned different lessons in the school of hard knocks, even earning graduate degrees from that university along the way. Finely attuned antennae taste the breeze, as it were, and pick up on what needs to be fixed out there, even while noting that “something wicked this way comes.”
Participation in life is essential for creative individuals, but writers also frequently stand back and observe. If they cannot take notes, their brains are sponges, so that useful details will be recalled at some future time. Most of us would like to spend a great deal more time as a fly on the wall. This is particularly true of those who have been trained as journalists and newspaper reporters. The world would have been spared much evil and more suffering, had reporters been quietly observing and recording the plotting among the fiends from hell. And then made it public when the time was right.
Evil regimes and authoritarian institutions fear writers. Always, the writer is the first to be silenced, disciplined, or imprisoned in such repressive societies. People in authority, and they are too often still male, fear the man or woman who boldly says, “The Emperor has no clothes!” The response of those in charge is invariably of the “Off with her head!” variety. Sadly, some female world leaders have tripped over that same ego gotcha in their need to be taken seriously by those who would not.
Often an early acquaintance with rejection
Serious writers generally know social rejection at an early age, often in elementary school, but always by the middle grades. So it is no huge surprise, just more pain, when rejection slips arrive in response to the manuscripts that were mailed with hope and expectation of placement. If they’re yours, take a quick look at the specific MS, fix any problem(s) that slipped past you the first time, and get each one right back in the mail to the next suitable target. If you’ve written well, eventually your piece will find a home when the time is right for it. And in today’s world, a well-written article or story can always be self-published and find readers.