Rejection IS better than nothing

Publish date:

Was talking to another editor yesterday about Novel & Short Story Writer's Market--which is my current top priority project at work--when she, a fiction writer, mentioned that she had received two rejections in the past week. Suddenly, I felt envious--she was, at least, receiving rejections. She, at least, was submitting her work. I have not been submitting at all.

There's no excuse. I can say I've been busy with work; I can say I've been busy writing; I can say I've been blah-blah-blah; but the simple fact is that I've just not been submitting. I haven't been taking care of that part of my creative side. And it's an important part.

After all, there are more benefits to submitting your work than just receiving an acceptance, publication, and--rarely, though I hear it does happen--payment for your poetry. In fact, I've found acceptance is sometimes disappointing, because as my girlfriend likes to say, "I've lost that poem and can't submit it anywhere else."

Here are the benefits of submitting:

* Acceptance. This is always the goal of submitting: to be accepted and for people to read your work.

* Feedback. A few times, I've had poems rejected, but received a little feedback on the poem and/or some words of encouragement, such as, "This one nearly made the cut," or, "We really liked this one, but it didn't fit." While this is not an acceptance, it can definitely fire you up to get that poem (or poems) back in the mail (or email) to another publication.

* Rejection. It sounds silly to think that receiving a form rejection could be a benefit. After all, not only are you being told you didn't make the cut, but there are no indications that you were even in the running. Total. Complete. Bummer. Right? Not exactly. If you approach rejection from the correct angle, it's validation that someone read your work. It's also a testament to your hard work ethic and effort in trying to get published. It's also a challenge to look over your poem(s) again--should it have been rejected? Are there ways to improve? If yes, then do it. And re-submit. If no, then re-submit and show that you're the tough (and professional) kind of poet who will persevere through rejection.

The worst is when you receive nothing--especially when the reason you receive nothing is that you haven't been submitting. That's akin to saying, "I don't care." Which is fine if you just write for yourself, but if you want to reach out to others and give them one more voice to consider, if you want to touch at least one other person and let them know--hey, I've been there, too--then please do yourself a favor and submit your work. There's really no excuse not to.

And now, I'll get off my soapbox and start practicing what I preach. After all, how am I going to add to my credit list if I don't have any submissions out making the rounds? Geez!