Wednesday, February 16, 2011

AWP Recap #2 The Art of Rejection

Song of the Day: Yes or No by JoJo

    Hello all! As promised, I'm recapping some of the workshops from the 2011 AWP Conference. One of the best workshops was on the topic of rejection. This workshop made me look at rejection in a whole new light! For years I refused to submit my work because I wasn't "ready." It was only late last year that I began sending my work out (and minimally at that). One of my New Year's Resolutions is to be more aggressive in getting my work out there. Rejection is a part of the writer's process and it can actually have significant rewards and here's why.

   A panel (Diana Raab, Wendy Call, Kevin Morgan Watson, Geeta Kothari, Molly Peacock, and Philip F. Deaver) shared their experiences with rejection and how writers can use it to become better writers. Wendy Call's suggestions stuck out the most. She compiled a list of how rejections can help a writer.

Six Reasons Rejections Can Help You:

1. As people reject you, they're getting to know you. The more people that know your name the better off you are.

2. When a door closes somewhere in your writing universe, another can open. Keep putting yourself out there. You never know what will happen. If one person doesn't like your submission, someone else might.

3. Rejection tests your belief in yourself. Can you keep going? Will you keep going until your work is published?

4. Rejection is a sign you're headed in the right direction. Writers who always get accepted could be aiming to low. If you're getting rejections, it means that you're challenging yourself to be a better writer and a series of rejections can mean a shift. You're evolving and an acceptance could soon be on the horizon.

5. Rejection letters can be sign posts. This goes hand in hand with #4. Use it as markers on your journey. Once you begin to get acceptances, know that it's time to up the anty.

6. Rejections letters can help you meet your goal. You can set a goal for the number of submissions you want to send out. That way you're the boss and the goal is within your control.

Miscellaneous advice/comments from the panel:

  • There is a myth that writers have thick skin. The truth is no writer has thick skin. Rejections hurt. The trick is to not let the sun set on your rejections.
  • Persistence is key.
  • Get experience sending out your work as much as you can, it helps to ease the sting of rejection.

Last, I'm going to leave you with a quote that really resonated with me. "In the literary submission world, you just have to find your friend, you only need one."

How do you handle rejection? Has a series of rejections ever led to better opportunities for you?


  1. I try to never look at rejection as the end of something. For me, a rejection is the signpost of a next step. I tell myself, "When I hear back from X, then I am going to..." That way, I always have something planned. If I get an acceptance, then YAY!

  2. Thank you for this, Racquel! There are some REALLY GREAT tips on that list. I am going to print it and keep it nearby. :-)

  3. This is a great recap. Rejection is so hard but it's a part of the journey. I try not take it personally but easier said than done. This list puts it perspective.

  4. Rejections are so not cute...but a lot of what you have in this post does ring true. I think the more we challenge ourselves to go above and beyond what we're good at, then the more we will probably get rejected for taking that chance. In the end, rejections are helpful-especially if you get a slew of them, because then you know it is time to push yourself harder. Also, it's a sign that you need to make your work better instead of allowing it to be mediocre and comfortable. Great post!

  5. Rejections have definitely given me a tougher skin. I used to be very sensitive, but after querying for a year, I've learned to take the hits. As weird as it sounds, but the longer the rejection, the closer you are in getting what you want. That means the agent/editor took time aside to personalize the rejection. My agent rejected me first, but gave me some awesome feedback for revision. I took her feedback, and she finally said YES! So, rejections can be very helpful sometimes. :)

  6. I don't have any rejection letters under my belt because I haven't yet queried my book. I hope I can stay positive when it happens. It's inevitable and something that writers have to get used to and learn from.

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. I have a few agents with my MS right now. I heard back in the negative from one but she gave me some amazing advice and offered for me to re-submit or submit something else. No matter what happens with my current project, I now have a few doors open to me for future ones.

  8. Great post! Rejection does hurt, but without it, we've gotten nothing either.

    I've been like you . . . "not ready yet" to submit, but I've just started the push. It has been a good feeling . . . like I'm moving up in the writing world (despite the rejections . . . or maybe because of them). :)