The Business of Writing

Simon Whaley's Resource For Writers

Real Life

Recently, on a Facebook group I’m a member of, a member posted how demoralising she found the constant posts from writers commenting about all the rejections they’d received. With all this negativity being posted, she wondered whether it was worth writing anything and sending it off in the first place.

I could see her point. The facebook group is for writers who write short stories for the women’s magazine market, and so members are forever writing material, submitting it, and then waiting for a reply: hopefully an acceptance, but quite frequently a rejection.

As anyone who has submitted material to these magazines will know, there’s no scientific fact, or logical reasoning, it seems, as to how they operate. One time a magazine will reject a piece the next day, the next it might take 16 weeks to get the story returned. (It also works the other way around too – sometimes acceptances come the day after submission, sometimes it’s many weeks later.)

And as anyone who’s submitted several stories to these markets over time knows, Murphy’s Law has an uncanny knack of rejecting your last five submissions all on the same day. Sometimes you need to let the world know you’re having a bad day!

But, many people, including myself, piled in to explain why this member should not be so despondent. All this honesty about rejection is a good thing.It’s called “Real Life.”

Firstly, it’s brave of writers to mention the rejections they’ve had. Nobody likes being rejected, let alone telling the world about it. But what this does is it shows new writers that ALL writers get rejected. Some of the members in this facebook group are regular names you see in many of these magazines. So it’s the regularly published writers that are being rejected.

Now some novice writers might take the attitude that if these regularly published writers are getting rejected, then what chance do they stand? But that’s not the right attitude.

The fact that regularly published writers get rejected like this proves that the magazines accept stories because they’re good stories, not because they’re written by a ‘name’. Therefore, being a ‘name’ does not guarantee acceptance.

If the magazines accept stories because they’re well-written, rather than who they’re written by, that means that ANYONE who can produce a well-written story stands a chance of acceptance. It’s a good thing!

Posting about rejections also shows the truth of the job, in my opinion. Social media, particularly facebook and twitter, is full of writers squealing with delight at an acceptance, or a book deal they’ve just signed, or some great news that is coming soon, but they can’t talk about it yet and …

Read all these positive, upbeat posts and people think that a writer’s life is one continuous moment of joy, acceptance and living on cloud nine! That’s a false impression. It’s wrong. A writer’s life is not like that every day.

Writers who post about rejections are telling it like it is. It’s called real life.

But what’s also worth remembering is that these writers, who are regularly published but still getting rejected, don’t let the rejection get them down. (Well, not for too long.) They’re soon back at their desks writing more material. Because that’s how you get work accepted: writing new material and sending it off.

And as I mention in my book, The Positively Productive Writer, rejection is a good sign. It means you’ve written something. It means you’ve had the courage to send it off. That’s the only way to get published.

So next time you see a post on facebook where a writer has posted how many rejections they’ve received this morning, don’t feel despondent about your own efforts. Your own efforts are your own efforts. Yes, you WILL be rejected in the future. We ALL will. But it’s only by sending something off that makes acceptance and publication a possibility in the first place.

Good luck.

4 Comments

  1. Sharon boothroyd

    May 1, 2017 at 2:08 PM

    Hi Simon I felt bad because I was one of those who had posted my recent rejection rate. I tend not to brag about my acceptances on social media for several reasons 1 They are few and far between and 2 I don’t want to make anyone feel bad. If they are going through a dry period and feel success is out of their reach, it can often get them down reading about others success all the time. I’ve felt like this and I know how bad it can get. I actually find it reassuring when I read about mag rejections -I think, well it’s not just me who gets them! Many thanks for this very interesting post.

  2. The guiding principle when it comes to freelancing still stands – resilience, resilience and more resilience. One other reason to keep writing in spite of the rejections is the passion we have for crafting words on paper and screen.

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