Thanks but no thanks...

Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash

Yesterday, I had a catch up with a writer friend of mine, and we spent a bit of time talking about rejection. 

Getting rejections is par for the course for a writer. You would be hard pressed to find a writer who has never received one. I think one of the most valuable skills I have gained in the decade I have been a professional writer is learning to cope when a publisher or a competition or an agent says 'Thanks, but no thanks.'

Writer and illustrator Mari Andrew posted a series of sketches on her Instagram account which showcased the range of different rejections she has received for her work (including one where they don't even bother to get her name right). You can look at those HERE. 

It's nice to know that with enough time, even the harshest rejections can become something to laugh about, right? This made me think about my own best and worst rejections that I've received as a writer. The best are easy to pinpoint-- the kindest rejections I've received on more than one occasion have always come from Westerly magazine, and the thing that makes them easier to cope with is how personal they feel. They're never long, and they don't give individual feedback, but they're also not "Dear Writer, thanks for your time submitting your work to us but we don't want it." 

The worst rejection I ever received was also personal to me but it was blunt and discouraging at the time. Now, several years later, I actually find it really funny. I won't name names, because that's not helpful, and because based on my history of weak pitches, I probably did deserve to be rejected. But getting an email less than 24 hours after pitching that said my book sounded 'boring' really hurt. 

Someone once told me that the difference between writers who get published and those who don't is the ones who get published eventually are the ones who didn't give up along the way. 

I know I'm not the only one who has sometimes felt so disheartened that giving up was tempting, though. 

So what have I learned from rejection?

* To practice my pitching skills even if I don't like pitching

* To talk to my writer friends when I'm in need of a pick me up

* To think about writing like I would think about my day job sometimes. This is the assignment, that is the due date, this is the feedback. It's not a reflection of me as a person that it was rejected, it just wasn't fit for purpose. (Clinical, I know, but it helps.)

What was the worst rejection you ever received? Let me know in the comments.