The Weight of the Word ‘No’

Are we as writers arrogant, or are we humble? The weight of creating a world, characters, lives, is a thing most noble and a task full of vanity. And what of it? What does it matter that we, as writers, are conceited or pious?

I received my fourth rejection letter Saturday. Moreover, this is the first letter with actual feedback. I fear I am not as thick skinned as I would like to be, but I will be. As I’ve said before, this task is not easy or for the fragile person.

It’s so much easier to write about strength than to be strong. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t handle this rejection from a good place. I really wanted to give up. Why? I know it’s hard for us as artist to take criticism in a positive light. Generally, I believe I can look at critiques from a pretty objective place. However, this one created a turbulent storm between my Id and Superego. On one hand, could this publishing company’s critique be wrong? On the other hand, who am I, as an as yet unpublished author, to disagree with a publisher? And how do you know the difference? How do we as writers balance our own ego?

If you ever find yourself in this situation, the best piece of advice I can give you is to give yourself time. Don’t get distraught over a knee-jerk reaction to give up. Once some time has passed, go back to your manuscript, look at it with objective eyes and decide if you agree. If you do, change it. If you don’t, leave it be. It’s so hard to be objective on something you’ve put so much dedication in and if you can’t be objective, find someone you trust who can look at your manuscript and see if the criticism rings true.

What did I do? I gave myself a much deserved break from writing, editing, and submitting. I took the weekend to reflect. I reread the first few chapters of my manuscript, and I really disagree. I feel like my novel just isn’t a good fit for what this specific publishing company produces. While on the surface, my novel fits the criteria, it’s still really different from what they publish. Still, I am aware of my own arrogance. So, I selected someone I trust to read the novel and see if he agrees with the feedback. Keep in mind: If you do this, it’s important to find someone who won’t just tell you what you want to hear.

This whole experience really rattled me. The word “no” is much lighter when it comes in form letters and blanket denials. However, the word “no” when accompanied with specific feedback is much heavier. It’s a weight so heavy it can break your will to continue. Each of us deals with the burden in our own ways. For me, I survived it because it was a not a weight I had to carry alone. As painful as this particular rejection letter was, I am glad to have the experience. I know how to handle it in the future in a more constructive way. I learned. I think that’s all we can ask really, is to learn, grow, become stronger.

Where am I now? The weekend is gone. It’s Monday, a new week. Persevere.

One of my favorite actors, Samuel L Jackson said “If you have an opportunity to use your voice, you should use it.” So, I won’t let rejection, the fear of rejection, or criticism silence me. I will reflect in the quiet storm of this craft and continue onward with my own voice.

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One comment

  1. I can relate to how you felt. Criticism and rejection are hard and you can sometimes lose faith in what you’re doing. Don’t forget, these people are rejecting hundreds of manuscripts a week and aren’t necessarily giving your writing enough time to evaluate it. As long as you have a clear-eyed view of your writing and have people you trust giving you feedback, you will succeed. Keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

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