Any writer who has not experienced rejection is not really a writer, in my humble opinion. As writers we must be told Not Now, Not This, Not Us, or just plain No. It’s part of the process, but it’s more than that. It’s how we come to realize how much we want it.
My first writing rejection came at 20. The novel I sent off, which makes me laugh when I think about it now, actually earned a full manuscript request from the agent I sent queried. Ultimately, she returned it with some feedback that basically told me to work on craft and learn to “show not tell.” I wish now that I had kept it because it was certainly nicer than the multitudes of letters I would receive over the years.
I did, however, keep her advice in mind. Thanks to a graduate education, strong creative writing teacher, and the exercises of Melanie Rae Thon, I grew up and discovered that not only could I show not tell, I was pretty good at it.
Novels, while existing somewhere in my future, are not part of my present. My focus on short fiction and nonfiction has allowed me to submit to a number of projects that certainly don’t pay but would provide some prestige if something gets picked up. Of course this has led to a ripe round of rejection. Several places have asked me to submit more. Whether or not they mean it is not my concern. I keep submitting. At the moment I have three pieces in circulation. I am proud of all three pieces, so each time I type ‘decline’ into my spreadsheet, although I give the soft sigh of disappointment, I don’t question their worth.
In a blank journal I keep quotes that I have come across over the years that appeal to me. One of them says, “Opportunity comes from the kickboxer inside you.” I can’t recall where it came from and it is attributed to anonymous. (Yes, I could Google it, but I don’t wanna.)
Today I checked my email to find a Yes with an attached contract for a short piece I wrote. I have had Yes before, but never one like this.
Thank you, Kickboxer.