Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dealing with Rejection--and Helping Two Communities in Crisis

Step One: Open the mailbox, real or virtual, and gingerly review each item there. Step Two: Find the SASE. or email from agent or publisher. Step Three: Open and read the words: “Thank you for submitting, but…” Step Four: Curl up in fetal position clutching Strunk’s Elements of Style and hysterically weep. Alternate strategy: Wait for agent/editor/publisher to come to my house asking for my work. This describes my bad old early days of submitting my work. Even though I've had some acceptances, like many writers, I have rejection-phobia. I can now announce that the alternate strategy is a failure. And now I’m trying to repent, to overcome my rejection-phobia with persistence. Is it easy? No. Easier? Getting there.

One of the first things I do now when rejection comes my way is read, “Naked Rejection: You Have to Take It on the Chin” on David Callinan’s blog ( He has an encouraging list of rejected writers who later saw their writing in print and received acclaim for their work. Jeff Herman also had a good piece on rejection in one of his books. Reading both articles beats my old strategy; I now allow myself a full 5 minutes of self-pity, then I move on. Something else I keep in mind is what I was once told by another member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers. At a local writers’ conference, a writer won for bringing the most rejection letters. That same author won for having the most publications. You don’t get accepted without getting rejected.

Now that I’ve shared my strategies, how do you cope with rejection, no matter what your creative field (writing, art, etc.)? Leave a comment or comments on your strategy—from serious to humorous to creative. Share your ideas and for each comment or set of comments from an individual that I receive by February 25, I’ll donate $1.00 to Partners in Health at and the Cheyenne River Sioux Storm Relief fund—more information on the terrible situation in South Dakota at — up to $50.00 per organization. In other words, I’d like to see 50 individuals commenting in order to lift my spirits and those of other writers and creative individuals, all for two good causes. I’ll circulate my favorites through Twitter, with appropriate attribution, of course.