Friday, November 02, 2007

NH: Rejection

I’m in a bad mood today. Give me a couple of days and I’ll bounce back—I always do. My bad mood is from the same source as your bad moods: a rejection. This one was particularly painful because it was from a publisher I’ve published two prior books with and my new proposal was for my best book yet….in my opinion. They did not agree.

I wish I could say that rejections get easier as the years go by. And for some people, I suppose they do. But I’m not one of those people. I actually have warm blood running through my veins. Smiley here.

If you too have warm blood, you likely go through some variation of the following stages when faced with a major rejection:

1. The first stage, of course, is the What are those stoopid editors thinking stage. This proposal is GOOD! Why can’t they see that? And compare my novel with what IS selling these days! Ack! (Of course, when I reject a novel from an author, it’s always the right decision. I’m clearly exempted from the inept editor category). Another smiley here please.

2. Next comes: I’ll show them! I’ll send it out to a really knowledgeable editor who will publish it to great acclaim. A year from now they’ll be holding meetings trying to remember which editor was responsible for letting this masterpiece slip away!

3. Step three is the food and TV stage. Lots of feel-good food, like pizza, donuts, chocolate chip cookies, Breyer’s ice cream (vanilla, of course). TV-fare like old “I Love Lucy” reruns. Anything that’s funny and mindless. Barney Fife is a great restorer of one’s soul at times like this.

4. Next (after a day or two of misery) I might actually pray about the rejection. Okay, okay, I know this should be step one….but somehow ranting for a couple of days is more fun, if less spiritual. But after the rant and after the gorging, there has to come a time where I must acknowledge that which I’ve known all along: God is my agent. God is the one who directs my writing path. Long ago all of this was surrendered to Him. And yes, another rejection is a clear reminder that God has not seen fit (once again) to consult my timetable. Prayer calms me down. It starts to bring me back into focus. During this phase I may even do some repenting for steps one, two and three.

5. When I think I might be ready to face life as a writer once again, I usually drive over to Barnes & Noble, get a venti-sized mocha, and browse awhile. Usually I’ll pick up a few attractive books and read the first few lines. For some reason, this motivates me. Why, I could have written this, I think. Being in the company of all those books is like finding comfort among close friends. No doubt many, if not most of the books on the shelves at Barnes & Noble were rejected at least once before finding a publisher. I recall the story of Patrick Dennis and his manuscript for Auntie Mame. He started sending it out by working his way through an alphabetical list of publishers. It was finally accepted by Vanguard Press.

6. By the time I’m ready to drive home from the bookstore, I’m beginning to think clearly again. Actually there are two places where I do my best thinking about my writing: in the driver’s seat and in the shower—neither of which is conducive to jotting down all the insights that sprout up. But somehow on the drive home or somewhere during the next day or two, the creativity kicks in once again. The well that I thought was permanently parched by rejection has once again started to accept the trickle of ideas and what-ifs that might make for a great new book idea—or an improvement on the tear-stained manuscript still sitting where I left it after reading the dastardly rejection.

Hope springs eternal for the writer who won’t allow himself to become hardened by rejection. And even if I never publish another book, I’ll still endure gladly (okay, gladly probably isn’t the word here) the process that includes rejection. It’s in my blood, after all. That same warm blood coursing through my veins doesn’t know what it means to give up writing. I suppose that’s a good thing. I’ll be in a better position to decide in about 48 hours.


At 1:32 AM, Blogger Merrie Destefano said...

I love your honesty and your sense of humor!

It's funny, but I probably spend more time in stage two and five (let's be honest, a LOT of time in stage three).

Sometimes my computer becomes my enemy after a series of rejections, especially the face-to-face variety.

But the best rejections I've had pushed me into the stage two category. One in particular, from an editor who is now a good friend, analyzed my book and listed how I should have written it. I ranted and argued (quietly to my dratted computer), then I took his ideas and actually used them.

Ha. The joke was on him! His rejection helped me to write my next book. Which is still looking for a publisher.

Wait. Maybe the joke was on me after all...

Well, as long as there's humor at the end of the day, then it wasn't in vain!

At 2:58 AM, Blogger Christina Tarabochia said...

I'm beginning to think that rejection is just a word that means "not at this second."


I'm not sure what rejection will feel like once I'm a published author, but as an unpubbed--and I truly mean this--it feels like making progress toward my goal.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Heather said...

See? You are brilliant! Because you know that Breyer's is the best ice cream.

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Nicole said...

You know, Nick, those of us who've been at the other end of your rejections are very silently thinking "poetic justice". Just kidding!

I agree, that warm blood does tend to boil and then weep from rejection. Definitely not hard-wired into my DNA. It hurts.

God knows. Oh, does He ever know.

At 9:35 PM, Blogger Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

Thanks. It helps to know that editors have seen rejection from our side. Your thoughts are appreciated, as always. Keep 'em coming.

I've been out of touch (i.e., traveling and limited to dial-up) for the better part of two weeks. Glad to come back and find that there's life in Charis Connection once more.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Ah. Honesty. From one author to another, I completely understand. Thanks, I needed this.

At 6:04 PM, Blogger Paulette Harris said...

Enjoyed your comments and viewpoint.

Thank you for sharing.

Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving.

Paulette Harris

At 6:17 PM, Blogger Deb said...

So I'm not the only one who runs straight for the high quality ice cream (make mine brownie or mocha) when the rejection-jeebies set in...

Good to know. And no, it doesn't get easier to hear "no-thanks" once you're published. I think rather it gets harder, because you know you're writing better stuff now than those early sales...if those books sold, why shouldn't my Marvelous WIP Straight From Genius-Land not sell?

After I get done with those stages, I remind myself that the only way for me not to get rejections is not to write. Because if I write, I WILL eventually send it out, that's the way I'm wired. I'd hate to think of not writing, so...

Where did I put that ice cream spoon?

At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such awesome advice. I live on a roller coaster these days; get a rejection of a short story, acceptance of some poems, some acceptance of short stories, and some rejections of poems.

Writing short stories and poems is a little different than marketing a novel synopsis - turn around time is a bit faster SOMETIMES - but the process is the same. Editors - what's WRONG with them? Can't they see the brilliance they're passing up?

I think I got the best advice ever when I was prepping my 9th grade on
"Something Wicked This Way Comes" with a video about Ray Bradbury. The guy just didn't care how many rejections he got, he just kept writing right after the other. His theory - eventually ONE of these editors would be smart enough to recognize brilliance when they saw it.

Kevin Lucia

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Trish Perry said...

And here I always thought one of the perks of being a Senior Editor at a hot publishing house was that your books always got accepted and published!

Loved your comments, Nick. You put lots of smiley faces on my face--is that redundant?

Okay, back to work. Don't tell Kim I got distracted.

Trish Perry

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Cynthia Ruchti said...

In the inimitable words of Mr. T, "I pity the fool" who hasn't had the privilege of sitting under your instruction, Nick...accompanied by icy, milky aqua waters of Alaska and whale-sightings! Your insights as an author bring exceptional depth to your role as an editor, and vice versa. Your students--like me--are grateful.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Lydia said...


So sorry about the rejection of your brilliant new novel! Just they wait (stage 2)!

And I have to agree w/you--you are exempt from the inept editor category. ;) Your rejection of my first novel turned out to be a blessing, as the chapters at that point were "rough". However, your review of my proposal was so nice & encouraging, your response didn't feel like a rejection to me. Kind of catapulted me over those defensive stages right to godly acceptance. I can live w/rejections like yours. Only problem--they leave no excuse for indulgence. (grin)

Well, just wanted to say thanks for that. And blessings on your next round of submissions.

At 1:36 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Excellent! Thanks so much for sharing your rejection process with us. It really encouraged me.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Leanna Ellis said...

I've so been there! And I'll be there again, probably sooner than I want! Sorry about your rejection.
Thanks for your honesty!
What is it about driving a car and creativity? Dangerous!

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Bonnie Grove said...

Thanks for sharing the honesty of your feelings and reactions to rejection.

I'm new to writing (I decided about 7 months ago I was going to be a writer). I wrote my first ever book proposal for a non-fiction book back in May. It was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to.

I wrote a short story (fiction. It was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to.

I wrote a second short story and it too was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to.

I now have my novel up for consideration. Haven't heard the outcome yet.

You would think this chain of events would make me very happy. Well,they do. But it is very difficult for me to share this news with other writers because they get so upset when I tell them.

Anyway, what I have learned about getting published is this: "Be in the right place at the right time with the right manuscript". Yeah, its an exact science. HA!
Best to you and your blog mates!
Bonnie Grove

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Sherrhonda Denice said...

Wow!!! That was very therapeutic. Being an independent publisher/author, your article helped me to remain focused on the fact that I write for Him, and He is in control. Thanks so much!!!

Sherrhonda Denice

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Margo Carmichael said...

Love it! I'm cracking up over #2. Or maybe over writing in general! LOL

I just have to believe each closed door leads me closer to God's open door. Unless he has, yes, given me this story, just to keep me out of trouble. : )

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Jo said...

Just what I needed to be reminded of... thank you so much! Rejections keep us humble, and craft us into humbler people if we respond as Christ desires.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger carla stewart said...

I appreciate your transparency. It does help those of us who are seeking publication for the first time realize that we are not alone--that editors have feelings and goals and have walked in our shoes.
All the best with "where to go from here."


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