Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How Do You Handle Rejection?

I've done quite a few posts on querying and agents, so the topic of rejection has come up, but I haven't focused specifically on how one *handles* rejection.

So here we go. I'm daring to talk about the big R.

I could start out this post by saying the obvious: We're all there. We all face it. And it was a lovely friend of mine a week or so ago that reminded me that yeah, no matter what stage of the journey we're in, there's always going to be rejection.

But let's get to the dirty truth.

I've always prided myself on my ability to bounce back, brush things off, be strong. It's just the type of person I've always thought myself to be. <---Notice I used the word thought. But I'm going to share with you something that I'm a bit embarrassed about.

Last summer, I fell into the trap.

I became one of those "I'll be happy when" people. Ugh! Can you believe it??? I mean, how obnoxious are these types of people? They're miserable to be around, a torture to talk to, and nothing anyone says can affect their mindset.

I've never been one of those people before. Not until the R's started coming in from submissions. (To be clear, R's from query's didn't affect me--there are so many factors that bring those types of R's. But when it's an R on a submission, your actual story, that's a difference).

I didn't handle it well. Sure, I put on the "I'm fine" facade, but I went through a period where I began to doubt everything around me. Doubt my passion, my ability, whether or not I had wasted the last year of my life. I wasn't the person I wanted to be and I started to become someone I didn't recognize.

I also began to resent writers around me. I didn't like their perky posts I'd see on twitter or how someone was working on revisions and had a deadline they were stressing out about. (Don't worry close friends, these feelings were purely for people I didn't know... it's easier to dislike people you don't know, LOL)

Shame on me.

Long story short, I'm back. And because of where I am today, I would kiss every agent that gave me an R. I wouldn't change the last nine months of my life for anything. The perspective I've gained, the inner strength I've forged, and the priorities that have been lined. Not to mention how much stronger my writing's become. Like Ryan Greenspan said in a comment on this post"All rejection should do is validate that our passion is writing, that writing is our calling. If it doesn't, then it isn't."

I hope that no matter where we are on this writing journey, we're not (or won't become) one of those "I'll be happy when" people.

How do you handle rejection? Do you internalize it? Let it brush off? Cry every day? (Lol) Or zap it with your super "I don't feel emotion, so I must not be human" power? I'd love to know your thoughts.

Red. Head. Out. :D


  1. I am only now about to finish my first WIP. So I haven't submitted it or queried yet, BUT I did submit the first two chapters to a contest back in September. It was a small contest and so all novel genre's were in one category. I write dark fantasy and the judge was a literary PhD type. As you can imagine, it didn't go well. I wasn't ready(those chapters are so much better now, I could just cringe at what I submitted) and that judge hated fantasy. So it was hard. I wanted to cry, but I got over it and have made it much better and am almost finished.
    Let the rejection begin. *chews fingernail*

  2. Well, you're right. We've all been there. I usually brush it off, but when I see someone "get there" I feel a subtle pang. Especially if I feel they don't deserve it. But who am I to judge who is worthy? It's all subjective, and I keep on having to tell myself that. I've had a little break from querying and the such, so now, my rose colored glasses are back on :)

  3. I haven't queried anything yet, so I still have the big R to look forward to. Yay! I'm not good with rejection so this will be extremely tough for me. But, if writing is a passion it should survive the big R :-)

    1. It's the first of everything that's hard. The first query rejection, the first partial rejection, the first full rejection. Then you pile them up and realize it's all a matter of taste. You write what makes you happy and eventually you'll find an agent that agrees.
      But ALWAYS take and consider the criticism because half the time they do know what they are talking about.

  4. Hi Morgan! I found your blog during Rach's campaign. I like the look of it and am now a follower. If you ever want to visit my blog, you can find me at

    I have only been blogging since December 6, 2011 so you are a pro compared to me...;0)

    Take care,


  5. That is a good attitude to have. It is very difficult not to get resentful. I'm about to start the submission process and it's scary as hell. I'm sure I will need to revisit this post once I've received a few new "R" letters.

    Also, we're fellow fantasy nerds in the wring campaign :) Good to meet you!

  6. Beautiful post. It seems rejection runs rampant through the writer community. No one is untouchable, yet when we are experiencing our own, we feel so much doubt it isolates us from what we really need: other writer's support.
    I'm glad you've made it through your querying journey. Now it's time to regroup and try again! : )

  7. How I handle rejection changes almost DAILY, lol.

    I think we ALL fall in and out of that trap of "I'll be happy when"
    It's SO easy to do.

    There will never be a time in our writing career when we won't be rejected in some form or another - by publishers, by our agent not liking our latest work, by troll reviewers...

    It will ALWAYS be there. I swear the query process helps you prepare for being published, and the PUBLISHING process helps you prepare for being published, because no matter where you are it's not easy, but that doesn't mean it can't all be awesome :D

  8. Morgan, this post is fantastic. Truly. I find that I do that too, rarely, but I have felt that way. Especially when I read a book that is just okay and I'm like 'THIS got published but no one wants mine?' It's wrong. I shouldn't think that way but sometimes I do.

    But most of the time I'm positive about the rejection. That agent wasn't for me. The book wasn't quite ready and I know it. Whatever the case might be. I tell myself that as long as I keep writing and never give up I WILL get published. Just might take a while :)

    Great post girl!

  9. Those perky little posters...LOL

    I think we all go through periods where we just handle things differently. I love you new outlook.

    I'm a fellow campaigner (in the same group as you).

  10. I love that you posted this. It's a reminder that we're not alone and it's okay to be sad about it.. for a bit, as long as we jump back up and try again - better this time.

  11. I haven't had to face that yet in writing. I know I used to fall into the "I'll be happy when..." trap ALL the time in LIFE. When we move, when we get paid, when we're making more money, when he graduates... But I started to see that I was missing out on the now. I hope I can apply the same lesson/attitude when I start querying :-)

  12. There is a lot of truth in your words. If you get the time, I'd like you to go and visit Michelle Davidson Argyle's blog "The Innocent Flower". She wrote a no holds barred bare all of her jealousies and emotions that she goes through as a writer. It was a fascinating read and one that I think both of us can see a little of ourselves reflected therein.

    As for rejection. It sucks. You should never be happy about rejection. I also validate anyone that wants to not bear it well but wad it up and throw it in the garbage with a bad attitude.

    Many of us get rejected all of our lives by everything. And others have it easy. Why is that? I don't know. It isn't fair, but life is never fair. People will tell you to be happy for their success. I say boo. It's okay to be bitter about another person's success. At least you aren't lying to the world about it. Who cares what others think of you anyway? Be true to yourself and only then will you be comfortable.

  13. I've been there, and was a "I'll be happy when" person. Floods of rejections, mainly from queries but also subs, challenged the notion if I should be, or ever would be a published/agented writer. Seeing authors around me get picked up, and getting it from my editors when I did get a publisher shoved me into that dark hole where I cried and told myself I'm quitting...for real this time!
    I calmed down after a day, and decided for once it's not them, it's me. I took all of their comments, went through all my novels, and applied the art of writing from an editorial eye.
    Getting picked up can be a matter of chance, an agent/editor's preference, or an author's writing. In my case, I finally owned up to the truth: I had great ideas, but my writing wasn't ready. Now that I've admitted it and changed it, things are getting better.
    Still, I look forward to the day I land an agent and a deal with a major publisher, and hit a bestseller's list. I know it'll happen. That's passion.

  14. I'm actually grateful for the rejections. That combined with my personality not being the 'patient type' spurred me to self-publish. I'm super happy since my books are out there and being read, which was pretty much the idea in the first place.
    Hugs to you, M-dog.

    J. Dog. Out.

  15. I am so glad you posted this! I can relate to much of what you have shared here. I don't know why, but I tend to let one negative comment override ten positive comments. I then revert to my usual mantra: I don't care! I don't care! I don't care!
    After that, I usually talk things over with my family and things get better. I get out of my slump and get back to writing.

  16. Having your prose rejected is hard. Your prose is of your heart, your soul. But often we are rejected for things having nothing to do with the merit of our prose. The publishing world is in the throes of evolution which leads to panic and cowardice on the part of those parting with the money! As my young hero, Victor Standish, says, "That which does not kill you must have missed!" Love your blog, Roland

  17. Ah Morgan! I love ya girl! Rejection stinks and becomes one of those yucky I totally suck moments. And the 'I'll be happy when...' Allow me to quote One Tree Hill (yes I watch that show. Don't judge :) )

    Happiness is not a destination. It is a mood.

    It's okay to be sad at times as long as we realize that we can be happy too... when we're in the mood for happiness. A lot of times it takes forgetting the world of writing for just a moment to remember the other awesome stuff in the world. Then jumping back in with the force of 100 raging bulls ready to tackle any trial that comes our way.

    I'm glad you've overcome the resentment you felt. Know that I never got anything but love and kindness from you so I know that rejection didn't break you :D

  18. As others have said, I think the key is putting a limit on the moping. It's A-OK to get down in the dumps when someone says you're not good enough. (Sprinkle all the sugar you want, but that's how your heart hears it.) At the end of the day you have to keep moving forward. Almost every worthwhile enterprise that's ever been has been shot down at one point or another.

    The world doesn't have a unified vision, so talent, etc. will never be universally recognized. Don't believe me? Just look at the response to this year's Super Bowl halftime show. Some people think Madonna's a hack, others think she invented music. People hate the Beatles for crying out loud and they're the most successful band to ever walk the planet! What makes us think everyone is going to love and appreciate our writing?

    Just keep writing until something sticks. And it will stick if you keep at it.

  19. Fabulous post. I go back and forth from letting rejection bother me to taking a deep breath and plunging ahead. On the one hand I've gone back to stories I've had rejected multiple times and were attached to and then realized that they could really benefit from some tweaking. On the other hand, my 'dayjobs' are designing costumes and performing, so if I'm hearing a lot of NO all the way around, it can be a rough time. But I agree...I don't like being one of those 'I'll be happy when' people. I'm surrounded by those and the energy is draining. I've had to work really hard to get past my own emotional response and take a look at what's really going on, and then remember that I love what I do, that I love the ideas I'm working on. It's all a process and half the time it's really hard to judge what people are going to take to.

  20. GAH! Morgan!! Rejection SUCKS! But yes, I am glad I've gotten some in the past because they have pushed me to be a better writer, and I think they help toughen us up. I get like you sometimes--I get a little bitter about the blog posts where they announce they got an agent or a three book deal. I know, heartless of me, ha ha, but it is so easy to start the comparison game, to wonder what ELSE we're doing wrong, why that person got an agent and not me etc. I'm glad you've been able to pull yourself through, you're seriously amazing! I love your positivity and your writing is awesome. For me, I just have to remind myself that it's hugely based on an agent's personal likes. Yes, marketability, plot, writing, etc all have something to do with it, too, but even if they think it will sell, they have to love it enough to want to work on your project with you for the next few years. So it's just a numbers game, really. I know this is all stuff you know, but I'll just add what an editor told me once: The problem is that too many people give up too soon, and if you keep writing, you will get published. It will happen!!! :D

  21. Whenever bad news comes, I give myself five minutes to wallow in self-pity. Then I make myself shake it off, pick back up and keep running.

    The act of creation is rewarding on its own, so I try to get as much joy from the writing process as I can. Granted, writers are performers in a sense, so a part of us craves acknowledgment and praise for our hard work. But I want squeeze as much enjoyment from this whole crazy process as I can.

    Great post as always, Morgan!

  22. Oh, rejection. When I started really writing novels, my father-in-law once told me, "You can't really consider yourself a writer unless you get enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room." Now, I don't think you need that many, LOL, but you get the gist of it. I've had times where there was a hopeful, "Maybe this person will want me!" when the email was in the inbox, then that swooping down of, "Ohh, never mind, rejection!" But I'm probably one of those annoying people who brushes it off and moves on. I think it's harder for me to see a really negative review of a story, honestly. Don't get me wrong--I wouldn't deny a reader their opinion for anything. I go into publishing a book knowing there are going to be people who love it and people who hate it, and that's okay. If I tried to write to please everyone, I would probably have a crappy book on my hands. I write the story that needs to be told. I have to brace myself sometimes when I send books to beta readers and CPs; I know that they'll be ripping it up and telling me where they think I need to improve the story. But it's good, because I can learn and figure out how to improve that book and any that come later.

    (Mostly, I'm just a hopeless optimist. ;))

    1. i think i've collected about that many rejection papers!

      great post morgan...rejection's tough but like everyone here says it's part of writing and growing as a writer... you're also right about it being tougher on the ms. and not just the query

      one thing i learned was to only send out 3-4 queries at a time... at first i would send out like 50 with sample chapters... when a couple agents got back to me with the rejection (and gave suggestions usually concerning the first chapter) i realized i'd already blown it with a bunch of agents because they already had and probably read the first (and flawed) chapter by that point!

  23. Are you kidding...I internalize EVERYTHING! I'm pretty sure my wife is the only one able to tell when something is bothering me. I know...not the healthiest of ways to deal...but its the way I'm wired. It's not the rejections per say that bother me, its the ones that make you feel like you shouldn't even be part of the conversation that sting.

  24. The "R" word sucks. We've talked about it multiple times. In the writing world, it feels like a personal attack on "me" not my writing. I had to stop thinking that, reminding myself that this industry IS subjective. I had to realize that my work wasn't the right fit for the agent. Once I found the agent who was passionate about my book/writing, I knew all the R's were worth it. Like you said, they made me better. Now being under submission starts the whole wild awful game again. I'm under attack. But it's ok cuz I'm getting there.
    As for the "I'll be happy when..." stuff. I've spent most of my life in that mindset. It's super tough to get out of that POV. But, I think I'm slowly getting to the point where I'm somewhat comfortable being in my skin. It's a work in progress but worth it.
    I love ya, Morgs. You are the best. I wish you a super great agent and pub deal in your very near future. You deserve it babe!

  25. I'm always hopeful for that, "It's so good I don't see anything that needs to be fixed!" :) In my dreams, right? So when something comes back with marks all over it or doesn't win an agent's request, I need a little time for it to sink in before I can add their edits/comments and realize their words will make my writing stronger. I hope I get better at R and I'm glad to hear your take on it :)

  26. Hahahaha I'd tell you, but I haven't queried yet, so I still haven't been rejected. :-)

  27. Hey Red. Head.

    My take on this is if a rejection letter don't give you a paper cut - it makes you stronger (and remember the *back* of a RL makes for *fine* coloring paper :)

    Honestly, while I don't *like* the darn things, everytime I get one back, it really does motivate me to move forward...the other day I got a large manilla envelope (gasp) in the mail, and I excitedly turned it over only to see my own handwriting on the front... it was the infamous SASE coming back to me!

    I gnashed my remaining teeth for a while and then drove over the RL a number of times... and felt much better :)

    PS... glad you're going to do my "Got Green?" O'Hop... at least one person with your hair color is required to make this a "real" Irish hop, so thanks :)

  28. I haven't every queried so I'm just putting off the inevitable, but I agree that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. It isn't any easier right when you're going through it though.

  29. I'm an "I don't feel emotion" robot when it comes to rejection... and actually, I'm better at dealing with personal rejection (from guys, potential employers, former friends, etc.) than I am when it comes to my writing, probably because up until now my mechanism for dealing with dating, job, life-in-general setbacks has been to tell myself "none of this will matter when I'm a rich and famous author." But it's so true that going through life thinking "I'll be happy (or I'll feel worthwhile, content, vindicated, etc.) when..." is no way to live. I wish I could have known that sooner.

    Btw greetings from a new follower and fellow campaigner in the new adult group!

  30. Morgan, I love your blog :) I started drafting a book about a year ago, and I am in the process of finally writing it. Your blog has given me the courage to pursue the book more intently... and start a writing blog myself. Thank you :)

  31. Morgan,
    Very thoughtful post.
    I went through a different type of rejection, more related to the acting world, but I guess it doesn't make much of a difference. Here's how I deal with it. I do auditions. After the audition, the moment I step out of the room, I forget I even did the audition. If they want me, I'll get a call back and, maybe, then, the part. Me, I'm just there to perform, and to do it well, to the best of my possibilities and having fun. Deciding whether to take me or not, and deciding why they do or do not want me is their problem. I don't care, as long as I know I've done my best. If I haven't, I will next time.
    It's the only way.
    I know many famous writers were rejected for years before getting some recognition. Some only found posthumous recognition.
    Well, I hope we find recognition in this life, but I don't think you should give too much importance to being rejected. If you are, learn from it, and move on.
    Like you said, if after being rejected you're still motivated, then writing is indeed your cup of tea :)

  32. I eat some chocolate and then brush it off and look for the next place I can submit my work to.

  33. I haven't even started querying yet and I'm already freaking myself out!

    I think I'm trying to build my confidence up before I do by getting feedback from crit partners and writer friends before I attempt the big Q.

  34. It's fantastic that you can look back on rejection and be so positive about it. Go you!

    I tagged you on my blog to answer some questions about yourself :-)

    xx Rachel



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