Rejection: Coping and Not Being A Dick

rejection, refusal, editor

rejection, writing, sadness, negativeNo one likes being rejected. No shit, Sherlock. However kindly the rejection is worded, however reasonable the grounds for saying No might be, it’s always going to sting – a little or a lot. You offer something you think is of value, whether that’s a piece of work you have completed, a gift you have chosen, or something bigger but vaguer, like your ‘heart’, and the intended recipient makes it clear that this is not welcome and not wanted. even if only briefly, you are likely to feel that you yourself are unwanted and unworthy.

rejection, stalking, harassmentBoohoo. But you’ll get over it, given time. Sometimes, you can manage to see that the rejecter actually has a point – you rushed that story, or didn’t read the call for submissions properly; you’re not the gender/gender presentation that the person you desire is attracted to;you burnt that toast which is why your partner didn’t eat it EVEN THOUGH you got up specially early to make it. And sometimes, a rejection really really hurts, and takes longer to get over. Thing is, though, you have to get over it. You have no right to punish or harass someone who has turned you down. There’s nothing remotely romantic about that piano-playing wankstain in Bristol, for instance.

It can be difficult and upsetting to reject someone, or their work, as well. In the course of editing anthologies, I have occasionally had to turn down stories sent in by people I know and like; stories that were good but didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the collection; stories that were good but on a specific theme that at least one other author had also chosen and that other author’s story was just that little bit better… But, at least, I have nearly always found the authors I deal with take rejection with dignity and grace.

rejection, refusal, editorThat unwanted story will probably find a home elsewhere, in due course. That sent-back novel might become a best-seller if you publish it yourself. Or the next thing you send to a publisher or editor might blow their socks off and get an instant acceptance. However, if you’ve behaved like a total dick when you got turned down last time, there’s a strong risk that word will spread, and people will keep on rejecting you just because they don’t want to deal with someone who is difficult, unpleasant, entitled and selfish.

Dumbfuck memes and how-to-books written by chances might bang on about never giving up, but the sensible ones acknowledge that it isn’t about relentless onslaughts on a specific individual who has said ‘No’. Remember, a restraining order is not remotely career-enhancing – and it doesn’t make you a tempting prospect to future dates, either.

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