A Rejection Connection Guest Post

Davidh Digman:

I am over the moon! I am pumped up to brimming with an excess of spirits! I am so overwhelmed with joy that I want to take her, take her, take her right now and have my naughty, manly way with her! Why am I so blissed out that my employer may understandably want me to take a blood test? One of my beloved short stories was rejected!

Okay, so before you decide to call an ambulance and put all of the doctors and nurses on danger money, I lurrrrrve professionally crafted rejections.

Rejections are the publishing industry’s way of workshopping a writer’s piece. And we all know (or should know) how crucial a good workshop is to a writer.

This rejection was of the personalised type — as distinct from a form rejection.

So an editor has taken some precious time out to put in some serious effort to tell me not only that the story doesn’t suit their publication, but moreover, why it doesn’t suit them. How more kind and helpful could any editor be in turning away my work?

They described it with the words ‘preachy’ and ‘melodramatic’.

‘Preachy’ and ‘melodramatic’ are not exactly compliments and I could have simply ranted and raved and stamped my little feet and cried about how it was not fair, not fair… but instead I accepted it.

I cannot help but respect the professionalism shown by a professional editor taking the time out to tell a professional writer in a professional way that she does not want this particular story.

I have had the painful experience of being the editor who must reject the work of other writers — so I know how it must have felt for this editor to have done the same to my work.

And by my not being offended by these seemingly scathing criticisms (which did make me wince a little, I am not afraid to admit), I am free instead to use this professional editor’s free piece of advice to review my story.

I may not review each and every story after each and every rejection, but by embracing my rejections, and accepting them for what they are, sometimes the most seemingly searing criticisms can be the most helpful.
I can actually see her point — this was an experimental piece of writing and I was creative enough to write it and brave enough to submit it, but I can see her point when she was noble enough to reject it.

Here I must divulge a little fact about this story: moments after hitting the send button when I emailed this submission through, a thought occurred to me to change it a bit. Without giving anything away, I thought ‘What if my character was blithely recalling how he dismembered this person and smeared this other person all over the walls and floor and ceiling?’

And guess what this beautiful, wonderful, consoling, soothing and inspiring rejection has done for me. It has told me that that is precisely what I must do with my character and with this particular story.
So yee-hah and woo-hoo, my story was rejected – yay!

Thank you to that wonderful, kind and compassionate editor who went to such pains to reject my work in such a consummately honest and forthright, but respectful way.

You have helped me to improve my craft.

You could not have been more helpful if you tried.