Writing Through Rejection

How committed are you to writing and the writing life?

We all have asked ourselves this question regardless of how experienced we are in this craft. And while it’s true we ask it most in the early days of our writing career, when we’re unsure of ourselves and face a steady diet of rejection, doubt creeps in even when we’re experienced. The level of doubt is in direct proportion to the magnitude of the rejection. If I get an article rejected in which I invested a day, no big deal. However, if I get a book rejected that I invested three years, well, that stings a little more. (Okay, a lot more, and for a long time.)

Rejection on any level tests us. It challenges the depth of our convictions, the clarity of our calling, and the intensity of our passion to write. Just how serious are we about his thing we call “the writer’s life?” It’s an easy question when things are clipping along at a nice pace, but how do you respond when you, and all of your work, hits a brick wall?

That happened to me about a year ago. Everything I wrote went down Rejection Road. I’ve had articles published routinely for the last 25 years. Why the sudden about-face? With all of my past accomplishments I knew I should let this roll off my back but instead I allowed it to get under my skin. It ate at me for a week before I sat down and made a vow. I vowed that I would work through rejection by writing through it.

In fact, I immediately wrote an article entitled, “Writing Through Rejection” and submitted it to a publication.  In the article I made this point:  Every rejection should be a badge of courage for a writer. Although it symbolizes a failed attempt, it doesn’t symbolize failure. Instead, every rejection is an opportunity to test your commitment to your calling.

 I reminded myself that if writing was simply something I do, I could give up and do something else. But writing isn’t merely something I do, it’s who I am. And if a writer is who I am, can I ever quit? Can you?

Last week was my wedding anniversary. I have always marveled when two unrelated facets of my life come together and move my heart. For example, as my wife and I celebrated, I reflected on the vows we made to each other. Regardless of the challenges we would face, the vow would keep us together. I got to thinking about “A Writer’s Vow.” Why don’t we vow to never quit, despite the disappointments, disruptions and rejection typical of a writer’s life? A vow to never give up the call or compulsion to write. A vow to promise yourself that if you fall down seven times you will get up eight? A vow to defeat rejection before it defeats you.

It has been over a year now since I wrote “Writing Through Rejection.” I never heard from the editor. Nothing worse than having an article on rejection rejected.

This week I found a large envelope in my mailbox. Enclosed were two copies of the magazine to which I submitted my article. Inside, my article was published. A check was stapled to the magazine cover. I never saw it coming.

It reinforced my vow. The best way to work through rejection is to write through it.


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The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of encouragement.

Blog entries are posted on Thursday.

You may contact me at:  jcmchips1@yahoo.com.

Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 11:26 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. And for all fiction novelists: work through the rejection of your first novel by beginning your second one . . . And even outlining your third one! Vow to keep writing novels until there are none left in you. And then take a sabbatical to dream up some new ones. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in rejection and in publication, until death takes you off the earth.

    • Dave,

      Thank you for your thoughts and for so faithfully following this blog. I hope the ideas shared here will help you write your next novel.

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