Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Devil Is In The Rejection

I only really started writing and trying to be an author in 2005. In the past six years I've had several published articles, interviews, and short stories. I have also been the driving force behind two very well received anthologies and had my first collection of short fiction published. I have also been fortunate enough to travel all over the United States and do several signings. I've been able to sell my books and see amazing places. These signings have also allowed me to meet some great people and make wonderful friends, I will have for the rest of my life. Over all I would say I've been pretty lucky.

Over the years I've also dealt with backstabbers, plagiarist, liars and bullshit publishers, but none of that pulls on my heart strings like a good old fashion rejection letter.

Almost every writer or author gets rejections. I've received my share of rejection letters in the last few years. I've been told that rejections make us better at what we do. I've also been told it's not always because the story is bad. It's sometimes because it just isn't what the publisher or publication is looking for, but it could be that it's just not good enough.

After some rejection letters I stopped submitting stories for a while. I even took a year off from submitting things. It was a combination of working on Fracas and frustration with rejection. I'm not afraid of the rejection. If I was I'd never send anything out in the first place. I just take every rejection hard and tend to spend a little time feeling like I'm wasting my time and maybe I'd be better served spending my time cross stitching or watching sports, but that's just not who I am. I have to eventually remind myself, or have a friend remind me, that I write because I have to. I write because the stories come to me. I write the stories I want to read and I don't write to be published or for any publication.

Sometimes bringing myself out of this rejection funk is easier than other.

In recent history I have had stories accepted into books I'm really excited about. I've also have stories rejected by a nifty online lit journal, an interesting online magazine, and the Esquire Short Fiction Contest. I didn't get upset about being rejected by the online magazine or the lit journal, but not making the cut on the short fiction contest stings a bunch.

I went into the contest with a great deal of confidence. I thought I had submitted a very strong story. I'm even sure I will find a publishing outlet for the story I submitted to Esquire, but it doesn't change the fact that something I thought was good wasn't good enough. That is a hard pill to swallow.

People who know me know that I admire Chuck Palahniuk and Charles Bukowski. Both of these guys have seen their share of rejections. They have been criticized and rejected, but they have also developed a ravenous fan base of people that devour everything published by them.

Palahniuk even had Fight Club rejected by a publisher and we all know the success that book has seen now. I try to keep this in mind every time I get a rejection letter. I'll keep writing but tonight I'll pour a glass of wine and decide if and where I will submit next.


- Travis