How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Rejections

No, I haven’t had my partial rejected. I really, really hope it won’t be but nothing is ever certain when it comes to publishing. However, if it does get the big ole R, I hope people will remind me of this post because I’m currently trying to get my head around loving my rejections.
This is something I do when the wait is getting to me and I’m feeling down about my writing, and wishing I’d known more with the manuscript that was so nearly there but didn’t end up making it.

Why? Surely there’s nothing happy making about a rejection? Actually, the first rejection I got was happy making and started me on the road to taking my writing seriously. It was from the Instant Seduction Contest and the wonderful editor told me I had potential, that my voice was Modern Heat, and that though they didn’t want to see any more of my contest entry (just as well since I hadn’t written it), they’d be happy to look at anything else I had. Well, I was over the moon! Yes, I had potential! I expected to hear nothing at all from this contest and I was so thrilled. So off I sent my next partial.

Along come rejection number 2. I was unsurprised since I’d already by that time (having actually read some Modern Heats!) figured out it wasn’t a goer. But still, they told me what was wrong with it and they wanted more. So off I sent another partial, while at the same time, entering the Feel the Heat contest. This was where things got serious. I got more feedback from FTH. I began to learn about internal conflict. Still hadn’t got it though, my entry was rejected (rejection number 3). But they saw potential in the other partial that I’d send before the contest. I was asked for the full.

So I sent away my first full and back it came with revisions. My heroine needed conflict. I was learning, but I struggled with that. It was so hard. I hadn’t learned that rewriting needed to be done, that adding conflict would change the character, that once you change the character, the plot might change too. And proper conflict still eluded me. I still didn’t understand. I got a second lot of revisions but the conflict jigsaw still wasn’t complete. I still didn’t get it.

Rejection number 4 was very hard. The ms was so nearly there but I didn’t have the knowledge I needed to make it work and the editors knew it. But now I could see why it hadn’t worked. It was becoming clearer. Thinking I had it, I dived into another partial. Yes, surely I had the conflict now. But I was still thinking of the conflict as a thing separate from my characters. I wasn’t looking at my characters as whole people, just as receptacles for the conflict I’d thought up.

So back came rejection number 5. Even harder than rejection number 4 in many ways. But the one thing about it was that finally I was beginning to see my problem. And it made me very determined to learn how to fix it. With rejection number 5 also came advice from Michelle Styles about synopses and about the actions and reactions characters take. Another piece of the jigsaw fell into place.

This time I sent off just a synopsis, after much hard work. Didn’t get a rejection this time but a warning – think about your characters. You are not telling the story of a particular conflict, you are telling the story of two people. So who are these people? Why are they the way they are? Why are we even interested? And more light dawned. Conflict and character suddenly became much clearer. I felt I’d taken another big step forward. So finally I wrote the partial and sent it off.

I’d love to end this post with a full request but I can’t since I don’t know yet. However this time I’m taking nothing for granted. I may still be missing a part of the jigsaw, one I can’t see yet. But one thing I’m sure of, if that very first ms had been accepted, I would be struggling to write a second. I have learned SO much in the past year though the rejections I’ve had that I truly don’t know if I would have had a second accepted. The rejections have been horrible, gut-wrenching and depressing. But they’ve also been amazingly helpful, encouraging and focussing, and I would not have learned all that I have if I hadn’t had them.

Of course if this partial is rejected, I will give up. Okay? Cause one can only love rejections so much. πŸ˜‰

(Yes. I’m kidding. So far).

18 thoughts on “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Rejections”

  1. Becca, this IS months after the last R so the sting isn’t quite so bad now. But if I get an R for this one, you can bet I won’t be so philosophical either. πŸ™‚

  2. Hey Jackie

    I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your honest reactions throughout your process. You write such thoughtful posts and I know that one day your dream will come true. The difference between the published and the unpublished, is the published never gave up trying.

    You’re almost there, I have faith that this is your year.

    Take care.

  3. As usual thanks for sharing your wisdom and leanings. Hoping I’ll be just smart to see it as part of the leaning curve.

    And yes, here’s to a full request and more!!

  4. I just want to say how proud I am of you. Yeah, proud. Because you hear so much about people giving up, then trying again ten, eleven years later getting accepted. So I admire how you’re pursuing it. This is a very competitive business, and they can be very, very picky.

    But they see serious potential in what you do, and I know why. You have a really wonderful style, and some very good, fresh ideas. And, for what it’s worth, I believe in Cat and Sean. πŸ™‚ And I believe in you.

  5. Gibb – thanks heaps. Honesty can be tough sometimes – especially the times when I think I had it and then found out I didn’t. But admitting you didn’t have it is all part of learning I suppose. At least, that sounds good to me! πŸ™‚ I hope it’s my year. It’ll take that long just to get through the whole process!

    Janette – thanks matey. BTW, don’t automatically think yours will be a rejection okay? That’s defeatist talk!

    Maisey – awww, feel a bit sniffly. Thanks for your lovely words, m’dear. It’s rather to my own surprise that I find myself keeping going actually. And who knows how I’ll feel if Cat/Sean is given the big R? But it means a lot you believe in them and it means a heck of a lot you believe in me too. Right back at you, hon.

  6. Hi Jackie! I follow your posts through Romy and have to say I love your honesty! I admire you for your courage to actually submit and write about your experiences. It is that open sharing of knowledge that makes the world of romance writers such a wonderful one to want to be a part of! Keep at it! As they say in sales … every rejection gets you that much closer to your sale!

  7. Ditto what everyone else said – another FAB post!!! I love my rejections too (after the required sad time) and used to have them hanging on my wall. Would still but the office was painted and I’ve never gotten around to hanging them back up.

    No doubt about it rejection is HARD.. but I guess we do need to develop this thick skin. At risk of sounding cliched, it’s only those of us who keep writing through rejection that will eventually get published.

    You are DEFINITELY one of them πŸ™‚

  8. Jackie! Thanks so much for sharing the trials and tribulations of your journey to publication. Your determination and perseverance is admirable πŸ™‚ I hope some of that rubs off on me as I’ve been feeling down lately about my WIP since I got nowhere with my pitch on Donna Alward’s contest on eharl.

    Fingers crossed you get a full request.

  9. What a *great* post Jackie. Thanks for grounding me. It’s always hard getting a “R” but I have to remind my self that there is a lot of discarded work along the way before you get the “nod”. Fingers crossed that this time is *your* time! Caroline x

  10. Amanda – thanks so much! It’s comments like yours that keep me submitting actually. Writing is so isolating so it’s nice we’re all in this together. I shall try to keep at it!

    Rach – thanks sweetie! I should put mine up but I can’t bear to look at them. Don’t love them that much yet. πŸ™‚ Perseverance is the key eh? You’re one of them too!

    Angie – I know totally where you’re coming from. I got nowhere in one of the last RWNZ comps. It does make you question things. But you should never let it stop you. Give yourself a day to feel crap about it, then put it behind you and keep going. If I can do it, so can you. πŸ™‚

    Caroline – thanks for your hope for me! I know it’s been said before, but you can look at your Rs as a kind of apprenticeship. You’re learning your craft. If you never make any mistakes, you never learn. Yep, lots of discarded work but I have to keep telling myself that all those mss weren’t for nothing. I learned with each and everyone of them. No writing you do is ever wasted!

  11. Fabulous attitude, Jackie. Just the other day, I was fighting with a chapter I’m revising (the chapter from hell) which I knew wasn’t working, wasn’t moving the story forward. I went through it at least 5 times, changing the characters GMCs, conflict but I still wasn’t getting anywhere.

    And then on the weekend, your light bulb moment helped me too. I was trying to make the characters actions and reactions fit the scene which wasn’t working. Finally, I saw it. The scene had to go.
    I was like, Yeah. That’s what Jackie was talking about. Go deep with your revisions.
    anyway, to summarize, πŸ™‚ thank you so much for sharing your insights and journey, and I’m sure the full request will come through.

  12. Rs are always rotten but yours have always been accompanied by feedback so they obviously mean what they say about your potential. And it won’t be long now,Jackie – it can’t be, because I’m still clutching my pennies in my hot little hand ready to buy your first book (in fact, if you ever start a pay-per-view blog for your romances, I’ll be the first subsciber).

  13. Sri – Wow, that’s really cool to know I helped with your scene! Gotta love those lightbulb moments!! Definitely if it’s not working, it has to go. Thanks for your faith, I hope it comes through too. πŸ™‚

    Suzanne – Lol! If I don’t get anything accepted, I may just do pay per view as a moneyspinner. πŸ™‚ True, I am very lucky to get feedback because that’s definitely not a given. I only hope I can repay the faith they have in me. Hold on to the pennies – or at least, put them in a piggy-bank. You may end up holding them for a loooong time. πŸ™‚

  14. I think I may learn to love the R when I learn to love revisions πŸ™‚

    I am so scared of failing, I am procrastinating like mad sending my chapter off to my crit group. Frightened to death of failing, so to read you being so proud of your achievements leaves me a bit ashamed.

    You allow everyone to follow your ups and downs right along with you and you never let it get you down. I KNOW you’ll get there, because you have the determined spirit that’s needed (as well as the talent too, that’s obvious because of the feedback you’re getting).

    Thanks for timely post, now time to kick self up bum!

  15. You’re so close Jackie I can see your name on those covers! Learning to love rejections is fun but they do give you an excellent excuse not to do the dishes, or cook dinner and to spend hours eating chocolate πŸ˜‰ If you make your family feel sorry enough for you they may clean the house…

  16. Suzanne – cheers lovie!

    Joanne – I’m right with you. I’m terrified of failing too. You’re desperate for the opportunity and yet when it comes, it’s like ‘oh no, now I’m actually going to have to step up and do it’. And when you’ve told everyone what you’re doing, it’s even worse because if it doesn’t work, then you have to admit you failed. Argh! Look, the thing is, I DO get very down. No one sees the days I lie on the couch thinking “this is too hard. I can’t do it”. Even told my husband at the beginning of January that I wish I’d never started subbing. The whole emotional rollercoaster was too much. But the bottom line is this: even if I stop subbing, I will NEVER stop writing. So what have I got to lose? πŸ™‚
    You’re allowed to be terrified but – to quote the cliche – feel the fear and do it anyway. πŸ™‚

    Lacey – think I need your eyes ’cause I’m not sure I can see those covers just yet! πŸ™‚ I wouldn’t say learning to love rejection is fun. More like eating silverbeet. Tastes vile but you know it’s good for you. πŸ™‚

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