November 29th, 2006

The Many Facets of Rejection

So I've experienced the frustration of the form rejection . . .for years I experienced this. Then I experienced the joy of the personal rejection, which soon turns to frustration as one gets hungry for that first sale. Then I experienced the fresh joy of the "try us again" rejection, which also eventually gives way to frustration as one is still hungry for that first sale. Then I graduated to my first rewrite request, and thankfully I skipped the rejection phase here, instead landing my first sale with Interzone. Yay for me. Along the way I also became the assistant editor at Realms of Fantasy, and I learned what it was like to send out rejections from the other side, both personal and otherwise.

But yesterday I encountered a kind of rejection I managed to skip the first time around, i.e. the rejection of the rewrite request. A while back I received a rewrite request from Edmund Schubert, the editor at Intergalactic Medicine Show. His comments on my initial sub were good ones. So I adjusted the story accordingly and submitted it to critiques. My readers were mostly postive toward the story, and they offered some helpful critiques as well. So again I adjusted accordingly, sat on it for a little while, did a final light round of tweaking, and off it went.

Then I received my rejection email yesterday. Edmund was perfectly professional in the rejection, and since we're friendly I doubt he enjoyed sending out such an email, especially after expressing interest in seeing a rewrite. But it's part of the business.

But to use an anology, I had the fish nibbling at my hook and I let him get away. The word "damn" pretty much sums up my current mood. It's a learning experience, for sure. I think what surprises me isn't the rejection itself, but rather how much of gut-puncher it was to be rejected. I've learned to develop a thick skin regarding rejection slips. You absolutely need one in this business. So usually rejections, however frustrating they might be, will roll off me within a few hours at most. This one is lingering. Perhaps it's because Interzone accepted the first requested rewrite I ever received. Maybe it made me confident I could tackle this one with an equal measure of success. Maybe it's because my critiquers were postive toward the rewrite. Or again, maybe it's because I knew just how close I was--editors don't ask for rewrites for the hell of it.

Whatever the reason, I know a lot of writers read my blog, so I thought I'd share this experience. The lesson: even when you receive a rewrite request, always brace yourself for the worst. It makes your writing life much easier.

Anyway, I do like what I've done with this piece and I do think it's stronger after the rewrite in question. So it's already back in the mail. Luck to me and to everyone else with a story out there.