Accepting Rejection, Rejecting Acceptance

(A big thanks to participants in the Book Binders’ Salon for a stimulating conversation last night about rejection. I’m indebted to you for most of this post!)

Grungy Text Abstract“Rejections slips,” wrote Isaac Asimov, “however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil – but there is no way around them.”

The hard reality for every writer is that we face rejection prior to publication—from grantors, contests, agents, and publishers—and after publication, in the form of bad reviews (if we’re lucky enough to have our work reviewed), readers’ scorn, and sales numbers. These “lacerations of the soul” are a given. We fear their sting long before we feel it. Once we’re rejected, and rejected repeatedly, it’s impossible not to be affected. We believe the rejections, we form a thick skin, we reject our writing prematurely so others don’t have to do it for us, we despair, we rebel and self-publish, we lash out at the publishing industry, and (hopefully) we return to our desks to continue writing.

It’s so easy to get thrown off kilter. (more…)