Moving Beyond Rejection and Into the New Year!

Hi friends, Stacey here, with my critique partner and fellow pub-crawler, Stephanie Garber! Today we are chatting about something we imagine most of you are all too familiar with..

Rejection. We’ve all been there, starting with the threesome of friends that decided to become a twosome without you, or the unrequited love you slathered on that skinny basketball player in sixth grade. Writing is not for the faint of heart. It often feels like the bad days outnumber the good, that the days of utter dejection and rejection will stop the ship from sailing all together. Many days, I feel like the luckiest person alive to be doing the one thing I’d always wanted to do — make a living as a writer. Some days, I feel like I might chuck it all. Go catch up on those movies I’d been wanting to watch, those travel adventures I’d wanted to take. I wouldn’t read, because reading would only remind me of my giving up. But it would be an easier life, wouldn’t it?

Statistics show that the average number of rejections writers receive before selling a manuscript is about 3,967, based on absolutely no evidence at all. Once you do make that sale, there may be and probably will be dark days ahead. There is the pain of being rejected for blurbs. The torment of not feeling cool enough on social media. The agony of reviews, both professional and bloggers. There is the consternation of not being included on ‘lists,’ or not being invited to conferences, and the heartache of being passed up for awards. There is the distress of having an agent fail you, or an editor leave, or your publisher not buying your next book.

Stacey: Speaking as someone who has a book out and two on the way, When I feel down about publishing, I distance myself. I surround myself with Stacey-supporters and avoid that thing that brings me pain. I get busy doing other stuff, cleaning out the coupon drawer (I know, I have a coupon drawer) finding stuff to giveaway to the Salvation Army, I research my next vacation spot.

Then, when I’m ready, I talk to other people who have ‘been there’ and can validate my experiences. One of my favorite quotes is, “misery shared is misery halved, and joy shared is joy doubled.”

Stephanie: As someone who has shared both misery and joy with Stacey Lee, I can say that the above quote is so true!

One thing that helps me deal with feelings of rejection is to think of books as if they are birthdays.

When it’s getting close to my sister’s birthday and my family starts talking about how we are going to celebrate, I don’t start feeling sorry for myself. I never wonder, Why isn’t anyone talking about my birthday? Isn’t anyone excited for me? Same for her presents. I’m not going to count how many presents my sister receives and then compare the number of gifts I’m given for my birthday—that would be ridiculous.

And I believe the same type of comparing can be said for books.

So, let’s say, your book is slated to come out in summer or fall of 2016, avoid the temptation of feeling bad because the winter and spring books seem to be receiving most of the attention right now—those books have birthdays coming up, they should be getting the buzz.

Stacey: It’s important to remember that there is more to you than your writing. We are not in a race. What can screw us up is the image in our head of how things are supposed to be. As nobody ever said, the flower does not compare itself to the beauty of the flower growing beside it, it just blooms. We each proceed at the pace we’re meant to proceed, taking the losses as they come, but also the wins. There is the joy of connecting with a reader who needed your book. The hug from your critique partners, whose love and support goes way beyond books. There are the emails from your publishing team calling you ‘awesome.’ There is the simple joy of losing yourself in your storytelling. These things must be remembered.

*Cue a rainbow.*rainbow_183687

Stephanie: During the holidays I spent sometime cleaning out my closet and I found a journal from when I was in high school. I was nervous about looking inside it—I was a pretty depressed high school student—so, afraid of what I might find, I told myself I would only peek for a second. The page I opened to was a list, written in brightly colored markers, full of all the things I wanted. I listed things like clear skin, perfect SAT scores, to be able to dance, and to someday write a novel. And while I still don’t have clear skin, my SAT scores were far from perfect—and sadly so are my dance skills—I did write that novel.

And I know I’ve said it here before, but just writing a book is a huge accomplishment, whether it sells or not. I meet so many people who tell me they want to write a book, but hardly any of them actually sit down and do it. So if you have written a book that is awesome. If it’s being published, or if it’s about to be published, that is even more incredible!

Stacey: Remember the speeder chase scene through the redwood forest in Return of the Jedi? It’s exhilarating to watch that scene because the camera shows it from the perspective of the rider, Luke. You don’t get a sense of exactly where he’s going, but you feel all the bumps and jolts and swoops and loops that he experiences. As we enter this new year, take a moment to rise above the chase scene, and view it from the top, where unlike that scene in Star Wars, you will not see all the bumps and dips, but the one thing you will see is your progress.

Now it’s your turn. We know all of our readers are in different places with their publishing journeys—we’ve shared a bit about our experiences, so now we’d love to hear from some of you.

17 Responses to Moving Beyond Rejection and Into the New Year!

  1. Natasha Sinel Jan 29 2016 at 7:46 am #

    Great post! So many truths.

    • Stacey Jan 29 2016 at 12:32 pm #

      Thanks, Natasha. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? 😉

  2. Beverley Burgess Bell Jan 29 2016 at 11:38 am #

    Thank you for this post. I just received a rejection for a requested manuscript (very nicely worded and requesting my next manuscript if I don’t already have an agent by then) but I was and still am down in the dumps because I had such high hopes. I’m allowing myself one day to feel miserable and then it’s back to work!

    • Stacey Jan 29 2016 at 12:34 pm #

      I’m sorry, but I’m glad it was nicely worded and requested your new MS; that shows she/he loves your writing! Will hope it happens for you for this current MS, but if it doesn’t, sometimes things are just out of our control. Hang in there!

  3. Mona AlvaradoFrazier Jan 29 2016 at 7:04 pm #

    I love your quote: “misery shared is misery halved, and joy shared is joy doubled.”

    I’ve been down in the dumps since my last rejection letter three days ago. I began questioning myself, doing negative self-talk, etc. I began reading a series of letters between myself and my writing mentor from last year. I sniffled, then smiled, and my spirits lifted.

    After I got on my laptop I saw this post and two others about writing and rejection.Thank goodness and God that the universe conspired to bring your bits of wisdom my way.

    • Stacey Jan 29 2016 at 8:50 pm #

      Thanks so much for writing! Glad to have helped in a small way! Publishing can make you crazy, honest truth. And it’s great to find those support posts along the way. Best wishes in your writing career (keep us posted!).

  4. lisa ciarfella Jan 29 2016 at 11:33 pm #

    reat post here.

  5. EM Castellan Jan 30 2016 at 6:01 am #

    Great post, as always! *bookmarks*

  6. Aimee Jan 30 2016 at 2:26 pm #

    This was one of the best encouragement posts I’ve ever read (and best-written, too). Thank you so much! I really needed this.

    • Stacey Jan 31 2016 at 1:15 am #

      Hi Aimee! Any time. 😉

  7. Matt Jan 30 2016 at 9:00 pm #

    Thanks for that post. I went on submission Thursday, and my agent is really excited.

    But she was very excited two years ago when we first went out (I spent the last year rewriting) and we ended up with 28 very nice passes. Nearly broke my heart, and the only thing that kept me in it was the idea that someone might want it if I could just figure out how to fix it.

    So maybe I did. Or maybe I didn’t. But it’s nice to know it’s another thing you an survive, to live through, and maybe that’s enough.

    Okay, it’s not. Nowhere near 🙂 But you gotta tell yourself something when the Rs start rolling in, nice or not.

    • Stacey Jan 31 2016 at 1:18 am #

      Hi Matt! 26 rejections on my first book before it sold (and that wasn’t my first MS). I understand your pain. Rooting for you, and keep us posted.

  8. Alexa S. Feb 1 2016 at 4:40 pm #

    I loved hearing from both you ladies today! It just feels like friendly encouragement to keep on going, particularly when I’ve been feeling so melancholy and frustrated with myself when it comes to writing. I’ve been easing back into writing for a couple of years now, and it’s been getting easier with each month. But jumping back in after taking a long hiatus (which happened over the holidays) is always the hardest part for me. I’m always scared to do it! But reading this post, facing a reminder of what matters – telling the story – helped. Thanks for the encouragement <3

    • Stacey Feb 1 2016 at 4:49 pm #

      Alexa, it’s so interesting that you say that about taking a hiatus and then jumping back in. Over dinner last night, I was telling Steph about how after a break, I inevitably feel like I’ve lost the ability to write, that I forgot how to do it, or even, that I’ll never be able to do it again. Steph said to me, “It’s not something you can lose or forget because it’s something you are. So as long as you are you it will be there.” So I’m sharing that in case it will encourage you. I think we can’t pressure ourselves, we just have to give ourselves the time and space to let the ideas come first, and then the writing will follow.

  9. Amy S. Feb 6 2016 at 4:30 pm #

    I love Stephanie’s analogy of thinking of other people’s books like you would their birthdays! I’m going to remember that one! 🙂

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