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The pain barrier
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Author:  mathew [ Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:47 pm ]
Post subject:  The pain barrier

Hello all.

I've been writing for a scant three and a half years now, and I began submitting material about eighteen months ago.

Needless to say I've had my fair share of rejections (and a few successes!), and, at first, the rejections really upset me. Recently, however, something appears to have changed. Now I find myself almost shrugging and thinking "Oh well--onto the next submission!"

Is this a common thing? Is it symptomatic of some realisation that either a: It's gonna be okay--I'm writing good stuff these days and my time will come; or b: Well, what's the big deal? I was never gonna be successful anyway?

Any thoughts?

Author:  rhysaurus [ Tue Mar 27, 2007 11:11 pm ]
Post subject: 

It just means that your emotion-business pendulum has swung to the business side... That's a good thing. It happens to most writers eventually... You should encourage your business side if you want to be successful. You are becoming immune to rejection. Don't question it too much. Just accept it, be grateful and use it!

Author:  mathew [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:51 am ]
Post subject: 

Well, if that's the case, I'm a lot happier embracing this "business side". It's nowhere as painful! :)

Author:  Paul Raven [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:28 am ]
Post subject: 

Congratulations - sounds like a good place to be for a writer. If you can offer someone right near the beginning of the curve (still writing stories that I have to force myself to finish because I've realised half-way through that they're utterly awful) some advice on how to get there from here, I'd be very grateful. How did you keep faith in your ability to improve?

Author:  Colin Harvey [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 12:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

Paul,

I found that the more I stories I send out, the less emotion I have in each individual submission. That doesn't mean sending a story to anyone, but I try to have the next market mentally lined up even as I send a story out.

Some people actually celebrate rejection anniversaries (I've just passed 200 -- Ray Bradbury apparently reached 500).

But some still hurt, the ones I think are the best thing I've ever written. And I still haven't cracked IZ. Yet.

Colin

Author:  StevePalmer [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:33 pm ]
Post subject: 

I've been writing now for 21 years, and so have my fair share of rejections. In fact, I've kept every single one in a big folder. (It's not unusual for authors to do this, btw. My problem these days is that rejections tend to come by email, and I really can't be bothered to print them off.)

In my early days I got very down after a rejection. (I never went into short stories, but launched straight into novels.) There was one rejection in particular that was so cutting and insightful that it forced me to re-evaluate what I was doing. It was embarrassing, painful, but it was one of those rite-of-passage experiences that authors have to go through if they are to get anywhere.

Many years passed. After 8 years of trying to get my sf novels published, I had a letter from Orbit Books. This led on, over the course of the next 2 years, to me getting my debut published, and the sequel Glass.

Another hard lesson to learn is that, even if you're published by the big boys, you don't have a meal ticket. I had an offer from Orbit on my third novel Flowercrash, but I rejected it; both me and my editor thought we would go with the next one, Muezzinland. Unfortunately SF was heading for the doldrums and my editor said no to Muezzinland. That was one of the biggest shocks of my writing career.

But I'm back now with a new novel out from PS Publishing come the end of the year; my seventh. My advice is:

Never Give Up - Ever, Ever.
Perseverance.
Patience.
And an extra dose of perseverance.

Author:  friendlygun [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 3:39 pm ]
Post subject: 

I've never gotten particularly discouraged after a rejection. Most have been fairly business-like or entirely fair in their dismissal, and some have been very encouraging and/or insightful. This does leave out the "giving the story/author a damn good kicking" category of rejection, which might upset me a bit. Of course you're unlikely to receive unfair and cruel rejections from most half-decent editors.

IMO, anyway. Gordon van Gelder could have once stabbed a rejected writer with a broken bottle for all I know.

Author:  Hoing [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:57 pm ]
Post subject:  The pain barrier

Rejections happen. Nothing to worry about. Sometimes they happen because (if one is honest with oneself), the story stinks. That's certainly been true with me more than once. Other times, there's nothing particularly wrong with a story, but nothing to set it apart, either. Even with great pieces, there are editorial considerations--did that magazine just publish a similar story? That could lead to a rejection.

Or ... maybe the magazine had just been inundated with a lot of great stories, and could only choose so many.

There's also the human factor. I once sent a literary story about the loss of a spouse to an editor who had (unknown to me) just divorced her husband. She told me so in her rejection note--she liked the story very much, but it just happened to hit her desk on the wrong day. (So I waited a month, sent it back to her, and she bought it!)

Finally, there's simply the matter of taste. I have published in F&SF, but never since Gordon Van Gelder's been the editor there. He's rejected every story I've ever sent him, yet I've sold every one of those stories elsewhere, including a couple to IZ. What he likes to read and what I like to write just don't seem to mesh. I should probably quit wasting my time and his, but as most editors will tell you, let them (the editors) decide about a story. Give them the chance to accept or reject it; don't make the decision for them. They can't buy what they don't see. (Besides, Van Gelder is inhumanly fast in his response, and he's always given me a little personal feedback. If he's going to say no, at least he does so quickly, which means I can send the story out to someone who's a little more favorably disposed to the kind of thing I like to write.)

The important thing to remember, in almost all rejections, there's nothing personal in it. If an editor says no to your work, it doesn't mean s/he thinks you're a bad person, or even, necessarily, a bad writer. It just means that that particular story, for whatever reason, didn't work for him/her. All that's left is to pack it up and send it out to the next place.

Author:  Rob Davies [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:13 pm ]
Post subject: 

Rejections don't bother me overmuch. I got around 40 before my first sale.
Most have usually been form letters or sometimes a few, positive comments. I never got a "please, for the love of god, please stop sending us stories" rejection (but I hope to one day, if just to round out my collection).

I actually find the waiting after a story is submitted much more stressful than the actual response. I get increasingly stressed the more stories I send out and start watching the calendar like a fiend.

Author:  rhysaurus [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 10:46 pm ]
Post subject: 

Don't keep your rejections. Don't count 'em! That's still having an emotional attachment to them -- in a bad way, believe me!

You need to get into a situation where a rejection is a minor annoyance rather than a betrayal! Keep going and this will happen naturally.

It's a bit like being dumped by girlfriends. The first time was the worst, wasn't it? Because not only did it hurt, it was suprising! After a while, it stops being surprising, then it stops even being the end of the world!

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