Friday, October 15, 2010

Dealing With Rejection

I had a great English teacher in high school, Mr. Moeller.  He taught us how to analyze the great short stories, and he guided us through the process of writing our own.  He thought I had some talent and encouraged me to enter a contest.  The story I submitted was based on the Springsteen song Downbound Train, and while I thought it was brilliant, the judges did not agree.  I didn't have the requisite thick skin to be a writer, and that one bump in the road was enough to bring my fledgling writing carer to a screeching halt.

A couple summers ago I decided to give writing another chance.  I had an idea and quite possibly the requisite will to make it a book.  I wrote about 70 pages that first summer.  Not Stephen King productivity, but I felt pretty good about it.  Then I got a little sidetracked. 

Personal experience gave me an idea for a short story, and I couldn't resist.  It actually made me feel like a writer to have two things going at once.  I hacked the story out over the next month or so, and then let it sit for a while, going back to the book.  Eventually I asked a few people to give me feedback on the story, and that was very helpful.  I let the story sit some more, and then I did some revisions. 

When I felt the story was ready, I researched literary journals and began submitting.  The first place I sent the story was Narrative, perhaps the most established online literary journal.  Narrative sent a rejection email this week, and while I am disappointed, I'm not deterred.  I've submitted the story to two other publications, and even if they both reject the story, I'll keep submitting.  In a weird way, this rejection makes me feel even more like a writer.  I put myself out there, and that's something.  Rejection is part of the process.  I wasn't able to handle that at 17.  I am now.


  1. Good for you, I would be in the corner with my adult sippy cup. Keep us posted!

  2. Really - but I have friends whose books have been rejected loads of times, before they got the big break. Oh OK - they haven't got it yout, but the secret is to keep plugging away.

  3. Squilla's AuntOctober 17, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    I'm watching the Vikings game...seems to me there's some good comparisons with your former QB on this one. There's a lot to admire in someone who keeps trying, keeps putting themselves out there, keeps showing up, keeps slugging it out. What a great example for the kids, your students, everyone. Good luck!

  4. Good for you. That is something. I wish I put myself out there more often.

  5. Don't be discouraged. I know how depressing all that rejection is but stuff does indeed happen. I've been writing a newspaper column now for almost 15 years and even though it's a small paper it would never have happened had I not put myself out there.