I’m writing this for those SYTYCW’ers who didn’t get into the top 50. And for those who’ve had a rejection recently. Or for any writer who’s had any sort of rejection and is majorly bummed about their writing.

Yes. It hurts. Yes. You’re allowed to be gutted about it. Don’t let anyone tell you those feelings are wrong and you should be happy and dancing around singing and tripping through the daisies. Sod off with that crap.

Because you know what? Rejection hurts like a mother. You put your heart and soul and all your hope into that story and they didn’t want it? Of course you’re gutted! And you’re allowed to have the bad feelings about it and wallow and wail and tear your hair and all that kind of thing.  Hell, I did.  Don’t get me wrong, for some people being told to be optimistic and chin up really helps and if does, more power to you.  But for some it won’t – like me for example. 🙂

Anyway, I’m telling you, it’s okay to feel that way. What matters is that when you’ve finished feeling disappointed – CARRY THE F*CK ON!!

One competition is one competition. One rejection is one rejection. It. Is. Not. The. End. If one competition was the end, I wouldn’t be published. Because hey, I’ve been there. I was runner up in one competition, won a couple more, go nowhere in New Voices or SYTYCW  and yet two years after getting a form rejection from SYTYCW, I got a three book deal with St Martin’s Press. Which I sold on proposal. I’m not telling you this because I want to toot my own horn (okay, maybe a little) but because I want you to understand that a form rejection or not being a runner up it is truly NOT the end.

The only way it will be the end is if you GIVE UP!

So the publisher didn’t want your story. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with it. You don’t know what goes on behind the scenes of a competition or a rejection. What the publisher wants that particular day, the politics, the mood of the editor, a slightly less than perfect cup of coffee, whatever. All it means is that your story didn’t get picked. Which means you have two options:

  1. Look critically at your story, what line/publisher you’re aiming for, your writing, your characters, your conflict. Does it really hit the mark? Could you improve it? Use the opportunity to work on it if you think you could do better.
  2. Send that mofo out to another publisher. There are so many to choose from, just go for it.

The stories I entered in competitions, some didn’t get anywhere and languish in my virtual bottom drawer, and some were published. Talking Dirty with the CEO was a New Voices entry that got nowhere. Black Knight, White Queen was a SYTYCW entry that got nowhere.

I worked on both of those stories substantially before I subbed them but I refused to believe they were crap just because they didn’t place in a competition.

Okay, so I should stop here because this is already looong. But here’s my advice, if you didn’t get it already.

  1. You can be sad. It’s okay. But don’t let being sad and disappointed stop you. When you are published you will have more disappointments so it’s good to learn how to handle it now.
  2. Complain to your crit partners and friends and family about how it’s not fair etc. But do it in private. And definitely do not diss the publisher in a public forum. This should be obvious because you’re a professional, right?
  3. Keep writing the stories you love to write because without joy, your stories will suffer.
  4. Believe that one day your number will come up and if you don’t believe it, find someone who will and get them to kick your butt or give you kitty treats when you don’t think you can do this anymore.
  5. Don’t ever stop. You’re stronger than that.

20 thoughts on “Disappointment”

  1. Great post, Jackie. I’m sure it soothed some souls. Have a great weekend. (Sending you virtual wine.) Salute 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for this!!!! I didn’t make the top 50 either, which made me a bit disappointed. I was mentally prepared for it – I mean, 650 entries – what chance did I have, really? But I was still a bit gutted. And now I am SO inspired, and encouraged, and motivated to keep going, and it’s thanks to you, and this post you have just written.
    So thanks.

    1. Hey Kirsty, yeah, well, I think we all hope we’re one of the chosen ones, no matter how much we tell ourselves we don’t have a chance. But you have to have that hope otherwise why bother keeping going?

      I’m so glad the post helped. It’s hell, I know, but the only way to get through hell is to keep going forward. 🙂

    1. No problem, Cheril. This is a tough business and it can be very hard. We have to support each other eh?

  3. Well said, Jackie. This is very true. I can’t count the stories I’ve read in some of these competitions that were so good I couldn’t believe they had been picked – really great writing and fabulous voices. And rejection can feel like a rejection of not only your story, but you too, if you let yourself go there. I’d just like to add ‘never go there’. The criteria for picking one story over another aren’t known by the authors, but definitely include the publishers vision for the line. An author’s story may not tick all the boxes, but that certainly doesn’t mean its a bad story, it just needs to find another way to be read, be that another publisher or alternatively a good editor and then to be self published. I heard the other day that Katie Fforde was rejected by Harlequin 23 times….

  4. Thank you soooo much for this, Jackie. I discovered I hadn’t been chosen while in bed ill and already feeling really low, so your words of encouragement have really helped stem the tears of self pity!

  5. Your words are truly inspiring. I think of rejection as stepping stones in a fast moving stream (wet, slippery and unpleasant?!) necessary to get to the other side. I didn’t final but still love my story and am still in love with my hero. Will do as you suggest and sub elsewhere. This competition has taught me so much by reading the work of fellow authors. This is not the end but the start of the next part of the journey. Bring it on!

    1. Excellent attitude, Jacqueline! It can be a rough journey but it’s so worth it to get there. Good luck with your sub!

  6. Jackie, beautifully put and very timely. I have so many friends who entered sytycw this year (I didn’t, as the only manuscript I have near completion just won the Blaze contest back in July). While several did make the top 50, more did not. I told my facebook writers’ group that those who didn’t final were allowed to wallow for 24 hours after that I was going to start kicking their as$&# again (I’m the group’s resident whip master). Disappointment is understandable. We’ve all been there. I’ve been there more times than I can count, with the same manuscript that won the Blaze contest. But we can’t let disappointment defeat us. Rock on!

    1. Go Regina!! That’s awesome. Yes, wallowing is allowed but you have to get back into it. The one guarantee for not getting a contract is never submitting anything. Crack that whip, girl!

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