Monday, July 11, 2011

The Sting of Rejection

I had an article rejected recently. It's not like this hasn't happened before; it's part of the writer's life, right? But for some reason, this rejection hit me hard. I felt like I'd been smacked upside my head, and the note from the editor, while polite and helpful, really stung.

Perhaps my reaction was based on overconfidence. I'd sold an article to this publication before. The idea had been rolling around in my head for over a year; I thought it was a perfect fit.

Or perhaps it just hit me at a bad time. Lots of other stuff was happening when the rejection came, and my mind and emotions were spread pretty thin. Looking back, I wasn't on top of my game.

It took me nearly a week to shake this one off. My confidence wavered, and I found myself shy about writing. I thought, can I write anything anymore? Do I have anything to say? I had a difficult time thinking about submitting to this or another editor again.

To make matters worse, I was in the midst of writing a chapter for the book Susan J. Reinhardt and I are writing. (If you missed the post about that, click here.)

Yeah, this rejection was a test of my character, endurance, and adult-like behavior. I would have preferred to ditch life as a big person and head for McD's drive thru for a wild berry smoothie.

Did I? No. Although hubby and I did hit the drive thru for dollar menu on the way home from church that week. Which meant small fries of course. FYI - My sisters and I have a policy - fries make everything better. Just thought you might like to know.

So I didn't wallow in smoothies, I kept moving forward, despite feeling like I was mired in a sea of oatmeal mixed with doubt. Looking back, there were a few things that helped me regain my balance.

Faith - I knew that God is in control, no matter what, and this little silly incident did not take Him by surprise. Always nice to know He's still on the throne.

Family - They were properly, but not overly sympathetic. It's good to know your loved ones are on your team.

Calling - The knowledge that I am called to do this. I must write. Something. Every day.

Successes - I reflected on previously published work. I wasn't trying to be vain, but it helped to know that my work is out there.

Reality Check - There will be times when what I write isn't suitable for a market. I know this, I know this, I know this. But it happens. This is life.

Obligations - Susan was waiting for me to finish my chapter so she could begin the next one. Blog posts must be completed. New lessons written. Life doesn't stop for pity parties, now does it?

I think it's safe to say that my tailspin week taught me a few things, reminded me of blessings, and strengthened my resolve to press on. For that, I am grateful.

What about you, ever have something hit you like this? How do you handle a rejection? What helps you work through it?

Writing always,

Image credit: Stock Exchange


  1. I submit so many things to various mags that I have at least one rejection roll in every single day. I think I'm sort of numbed to it now. I've also realized that it has nothing to do with my skills. I've also begun to believe that ever since things that have been rejected numerous time eventually were accepted somewhere else. My reaction. Stick the email in a folder and move on. lol. I'm sorry you felt the sting. I hope you become desensitized one day too!

  2. Yes, that has happened and it's not easy. Thankfully, somehow, I get through it. And it does take a few days.

  3. Karen,
    I had the same thing happen to me a couple of months ago. This editor had snapped up my work several times, and always commented positively. I even had a fan base from this publication. I just KNEW this essay was the perfect fit. The editor acknowledged receipt but didn't even send a rejection...two articles, two months in a row. It was my come uppance, stopped me in my writing tracks, filled me with self doubt. Then I realized, it's not about me, it's about editorial calendars and giving others a chance to get published too. I know I write well, but well, they can't publish everything they receive. But still, rejection stings. How's the collaborative book coming along?

  4. I find I handle rejection much much better than I did when I first started writing. I let myself be disappointed for a day. :)
    You have a great attitude!

    I've come to realize that even the biggest of authors still get rejected and that they're not personal.

  5. Fries make everything better is a wonderful motto to live by! Don't let the rejection get the better of you - anything is possible and today's turn down may be tomorrows success story!

  6. When I send out a query, I already have in mind where I will send it WHEN it is rejected. I don't give myself any time to think about it and just roll it on over to the next mag. EXCEPT, that one time that the editor didn't critique my writing but my topic and went on and on why she thought my topic was the curse of the writing community. You remember, Karen, because I cried on your shoulder. And that is how I handle things. I find a sympathetic ear and dump on them. Then, I roll it over; and that especially hurtful experience turned into a sale to the next guy.

  7. Jessica,
    Sounds like you are in a great place! Thanks for the advice! :)

    Such is life, we know, right? Some days, though, they hit a little more sharply. Moving ahead is a good thing!

    Guess we need to take it in stride, eh? I think I need a reality check so I don't get a big head, lol! The project is going well, thanks!

    I generally do too, but this was a challenge. But I got over it, and as you said, it's not personal!

    I know, the fries thing is the best! Thanks for your encouragement! :)

    I usually have another market in mind too; I think this is a great policy. I do remember that episode - happy to be the shoulder to cry on! :)


  8. This is a great post and when is it ever not a timely topic? I liken this game of rejection to the game of golf. Most of the time I dont make my putts. Sometimes I hit the ball way over into the next fairway. Just about the time Im telling my husband Im going to quit, I hit a great shot and the love of the game wells up inside me all over again. It's knowing I CAN do it that keeps me going - and the little victories along the way that keep me playing a game with the biggest margin for error of any game around. All it takes is one great shot to bring us back to what we love about it.
    Happy Monday

  9. Oh Karen! I'm sorry, too, that your piece was rejected....And isn't that just an awful word?! We should come up with something much better. Something funny maybe? It wasn't "rejected", it was "misjudged!"

    I usually feel sad and angry for a couple of hours...and then on to something else! I don't even submit very often anymore..but I'm getting back into it!

  10. I'm sorry, Karen. We can't control circumstances or other people sometimes though. All we can control is our own reaction.

  11. Hi Karen .. the worst is that extra knock when you're feeling 'the pits' anyway .. but turning on your heel, as you did, and looking at everything from a different perspective - it's not the end of the world - thankfully!

    See you posting more, and submitting many more articles .. all will be well .. cheers for now .. Hilary

  12. God is in control! Sorry about the rejection, but maybe He has something better planed for you.

  13. It sounds like you handled it superbly, and I love your list of things that helped you keep writing - Faith, Family, Calling, Successes, Reality Checks, and Obligations. I think I need to keep a list like that tucked next to my work area for those moments when a rejection gets me down on my writing.

    Thank you Karen, for your honest reflections and your inspiring attitude.

  14. Fries, ah yes, they fix so much of what is troubling in the world.

    Karen, I speak from experience. I have probably 50 rejection letters. I haven't counted them, so there could even be more. In retrospect, I think rejection is important. I think it forces us to focus on what is good in our lives, once we get over the initial pain. Survival, our innate coping mechanism has us automatically looking for a reason to mend, heal. And when that happens, all that is wonderful, delighting, and worth savoring, come to mind.

    God best that rejection and all the riches it leaves behind.

  15. It has been a long struggle to deal with rejection...rejection in any sphere is like a slap in the face. But I'm glad to say that I've grown out of that stage and have found strength and hope in Faith in God, which keeps me positive. I'm not exactly good with it but I'm better at handling it than I was.

  16. Back in 2002, I was fired from two separate jobs, and as I saw it, for no reason. Now I see it like the saying, "If you want to make God laugh, make a plan." I thought I wanted to work in an office 9 to 5, but it was not meant to be. I went through months of depression, but thank God for my life coach. She had me write out a vision statement of what I would like my life to look like in ten years. I asked her what about financial constraints, and she suggested I pretend there weren't any. So I said I would like to get an education, learn German, go to Germany, Austria, or Switzerland for longer than a three-week vacation, and have three books published. I have one book published and one year to go, so I probably won't have THREE books, but I might have TWO. All the other things have come about. And these were not plans, these were hopes that I thought had no way of coming about. God laughed again... or at least smiled.

    Rejection for my writing has not been so difficult since 2002 -- I see them as a badges of honor that I have to earn before the prize. After all, I cannot get rejected if I don't send out anything, right?

    Karen, you are a wise and brave woman. I love that word 'gratitude' that you came around to. Nowadays when I pray for something, I also say a prayer of gratitude for something I already have. Why should I take Gods gifts for granted?

    My guess is that you'll appreciate your next acceptance all the more.

    Many blessings to you, Karen.


  17. Hello Karen, weird how some rejections are more painful than others.

    I guess we also learn more from those.

    Take care. Big hug. xxx

  18. I love this, dear friend. I don't love your rejection, no. But I love your heart, your honesty, your courage, and your faith. Thank you for showing me how it looks. And I heartily echo your deeply-held belief that fries make stuff better. To which I would add, "So do mochas!!"

    Love you,


  19. Ah.. rejection. I couldn't put my experiences into words like you did Karen :0) well written and expressed, Yes, I recognize this, No, I don't want to have pity parties...
    THANKS for the encouragement!

  20. Jan,
    What a great analogy! I love it, and yes, I can so relate. You're right, we love it, so there's nothing to do but press on!

    Thank you. I'm really okay, it just took longer to shake off than usual. Yes, it is an awful word, and I like your suggestion! Back to normal and pressing ahead!

    Thanks! Such is life I know, just a little something to work through. Amen, we do have control over what we do!

    Yes, that's about right. I was in the pits already; that's a good way to put it. And yes, you are right, all is well! :)

    Thanks a bunch. I am not concerned at all now; it was just a great lesson learned. One of these days we'll be about perfect, I'm thinking! lol

    Great lesson learned, and in other areas of my life too. Glad my tripping and stumbling might help someone else. Happy to be the guinea pig!

    See, I knew I liked you! If we ever meet in person, fries will be the way to go! And yes, you are right, it all works out for good in the end. I'm blessed.

    I think it is an important part of the process. Maybe not a fun one, but a crucial one anyway! We can learn and grow together!

    We just never know where the journey will take us. Thanks for sharing your story; you are an inspiration! You are too kind; thanks so much for your sweet words. :)

    This is so true, and I guess in other things in our life too, you know? Learning and growing, I think maybe that's what we do best!

    Thanks and blessings, all,

  21. Rhonda,
    I knew you were a fries kind of girl! Mochas too, are a given. Thanks so much for your support and kind words. Love you too, girl. :D

    Thanks so much. It helped to sort it out to write it down. But that's often the way I sort things out!

    Thanks and blessings,

  22. All rejection sting in one way or another. I like your list of reality checks. I use them too. :)

  23. Oh boy, I totally get this. I got a rejection while on vacation. Yes, on vacation! It stunk, I'm not gonna lie. But the good thing was that I was surrounded by my family and friends and people who wanted to see me smile. So in the end, it took away some of the sting.

  24. Rejections are okay by me. A rejection is proof to myself that I submitted my work, and an opportunity to revisit the piece and find another market. I don't think of rejections as failure because they are part of writing/publishing. Failure would be if I quit trying. (I repeat this to myself like a mantra. LOL)

  25. Karen, kudos for your healthy attitude. Acceptance letters are around the corner to be sure.

  26. Hi Karen...When I get a rejection, I allow myself to feel badly---for just a few moments. Then, onward and upward!

    So glad to hear you and Susan are planning to write a book together. That was great news.

    Hope your day is splendid. Susan

  27. Thanks for your transparency, Karen! Yes, this has happened to me before. I have to admit that I stumbled a bit, too. It was hard to re-submit when I was questioning whether my writing was up to par. But like you said, life goes on. No sense in wallowing in self-pity (although I do tend to take a quick dip every now and then...) Continuing to do the right thing helps me get back on track and stay there! God bless!

    *I mentioned to Susan that I'd love to do an interview with you two ladies regarding your upcoming book! Maybe in a couple months?!

  28. Oh yesssss. I wallow for a bit, then pull myself up and out of it. I tell myself it's so subjective... and that the rejection doesn't have anything to do with my writing or me.

  29. Lydia,
    Sometimes it just hits us on a bad day too. :) Glad you hear you work through it similarly. :)

    Oh wow, on vacation, that's not fun. Glad you had your gang along! It fades, and big picture wise, is no that big of deal.

    Yes, this is so true! This is a great way to turn it into something positive. Thanks. :)

    Oh, I am sure, thanks. It was a good reality check, that's for sure!

    Yes, onward and upward! That's an excellent place to be. :)

    You are welcome. Knowing that we all have it happen is a great support. I like how you dip in self pity every so often; I resist it, but sometimes dip in too!

    This is so true as well. I wallow best with chocolate and iced tea, or perhaps a diet coke!

    Blessings all,

  30. So far everything I have submitted has been rejected so I just think of myself as "The Little Engine." I think I can, I think I can. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  31. Karen, Is this de-ja-vu? Just wrote about Rejection on Monday morning!!!:) Anyhoo,as my post states, "rejection is not so bad" you just have to read between the lines & find the positives.

    Keep-a-going, awesome one!

  32. Rejection always hurts, Karen. Its not the end of the world, and its also the opinion of just one editor/agent. Keep writing, Karen. Hugs.

  33. Jules,
    That's a great attitude to have! :) Cheering you on!

    I'll have to check out your post! Great minds think alike, you know. :)

    You are right, it is not the end of the world. Great advice!


  34. I think it is natural to have a bit of a let down after something like that happens. You let yourself feel the feeling and then, like you did, pick and keep going. I think you handled it well. :-)

  35. Paul,
    Thanks! Living and learning is a big part of life, isn't it?
    Have a good weekend,

  36. Wow, Karen. I really appreciate this. I know when I get rejected (not through writing) it makes me want to retreat as I wallow in self doubt and insecurities. Yet, if I remain true to where I feel God is calling, I have to keep stepping out in faith. And, french fries don't work for me!

  37. It's really amazing how getting published can make me feel so wonderful and like I'm the most fabulous writer ever and then all of that self-confidence gets completely annihilated by one little rejection! Hang in're wonderful!

  38. Shanda,
    I am so sorry to hear that fries don't work for you! Chocolate perhaps? :) Glad this resonates with you. I need to always keep it in mind. :)

    You are so right! The highs and lows are interesting, especially if there are other circumstances happening. Thanks for your kind words and support; they are very much appreciated!


  39. I think you will succeed next time. You are a great writer.

  40. Shopgirl,
    Thanks so much! You are so sweet. :)

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  42. Hi Karen, Thanks for sharing this, this is no doubt an experience of every writers the newbies as well the experienced ones, i have posted a similar experience in one of my blogs/knols. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    keep going this is part and parcel of a writer's life
    best regards
    thanks for dropping in


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