A Rejection to Break the Heart

I don’t usually let rejections bother me.  After all, they are an inescapable fact of submitting fiction for publishing consideration.  Send work out actively and no matter how great your writing, you’ll accrue a big old pile of ‘no, thank you’s’.  Typically, when a new one lands in my inbox, I glance it over to see if it’s a form or if there are any personalized comments from the editor, note the relevant information in my spreadsheet, and send the story back out.

I don’t practice rejectomancy, reading nuance and meaning into the wording of rejections that are, in all probability, not there.  I don’t take rejections personally.  Heck, I don’t take them as anything other than what they are:  part of being a writer.

We get rejected.  A lot.  Life goes on.

But today I got a rejection that nearly broke my heart.

Today the editor of a pro publication I love, love, love wrote to tell me that she really liked my story.  She went on to discuss the elements of it she loved — the very elements I myself love about this particular work — showing me she really got what I was trying to do with the piece.  But (and isn’t there always one?), the story didn’t quite fit with the very specific type of thing this market publishes, and because of this, they had to pass on many great stories, and mine, she said, was one of those.

Oh, damn.

I get personalized rejections all the time, but for some reason this one hit me hard.

I completely, 100% understand her reasons for passing.  A market gets known for a particular kind of tale, and this wasn’t quite that.  But if an editor of a market you love, who says she really likes your story, who calls it great and seems to really get what you’re trying to do — if that person isn’t going to publish your story…well, then, who will?

I know I should focus on the positive aspects of this rejection.  An editor generously gave of her time to sit down and write an email telling me a story I happened to really love is great.  That’s a nice affirmation.  It tells me I’m on the right track, that my assessment of my own work is not too far off the mark.  That’s a good thing.

But, still…sadness.  Still the feeling that if this editor and this market aren’t the right ones then perhaps there isn’t a right one.

So.  I allowed myself a whole day of mourning.  I didn’t work on any fiction and I didn’t send the story back out.  I did dull, everyday, day-job work and I let my heart mend itself and even let myself indulge in a pointless cry of SO CLOSE!

But, now the day is over.  Tomorrow the story will go back out and probably get rejected again and will go back out again.

People say that the writing business is not for the faint of heart or the easily discouraged.  Certainly that’s so, but it’s more than that.  This business isn’t for people who allow themselves to be discouraged at all.

And I won’t.

14 thoughts on “A Rejection to Break the Heart

    1. mirandasuri

      Alas, not really how it works. The only thing to do is keep submitting it and hope someone else loves it enough to publish it. But thanks for the suggestion and encouragement!

  1. cathschaffstump

    Harsh, this. I too had this happen some time ago, and yup, it sucks.

    BUT you will make it. Because you keep sending. And writing. And learning. We focus on the art, and the rest will come.

    I’m sorry.


  2. Steve Buchheit

    Yeah, those kind really, truly, and fully suck. Also included in that category, the “I’d love to buy this, but we’re already over stocked” and the “I decided to change the focus of the anthology a little to match some other submissions.” Keep going, Miranda.

  3. mirandasuri

    I know you are all right on the money, and I greatly appreciate your support! I always go back and forth on whether I’d rather just get a form letter for every rejection — as the personalized ones often hurt — but in the end I do think I’d rather the personalized ones. Frustrating as it is, at least you know you are in the ballpark, so to speak. Well, I shall carry on 🙂

  4. Matt Hughes

    Pretty much how I felt after Angry Robot’s rejection. Sometimes I think the personalized rejections are worse because you know exactly why and there’s no room for ‘Well … maybe …”. With a form, you can make up whatever ya want.

    Keep on plowing forward.

  5. Robert Evert

    Boy, I can certainly sympathize. I’ve got rejections just like that. Ugh!

    I often wonder whether I’m strong enough to be a writer. Even when you get published, you have to deal with the critics and people who just like to be nasty.

    I suppose it’s all part of the job, eh?

    Love your blog. Count me a follower.

  6. Amy Knepper

    I feel almost the opposite as you do! My favorite rejection was one just like you wrote about – an editor who loved my story and got everything good about it. A printout of that rejection is hanging next to me as I type. The other rejections, where the editors don’t get it, seem to slay me. It’s nice to read a different perspective on both types of rejections. I’m glad you continue writing. Cheers!

    1. mirandasuri

      Hi Amy! Thanks for sharing your perspective. You have a very good (and positive) view on this, and generally I tend to agree. We have to focus on the good in this business or we’ll just get dragged down.

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