advice

Rejections, Growth and Suckage

There are rejections and then there are rejections… There are form rejections, there are constructive rejections, and there are those rejections that say something wonderful like, “As is often the case it was not an issue of quality, but more an issue of limited space. Please do not consider this a ‘rejection’.” Of course, that last one will make you smile while you declare “damn” under your breath, but it is still exactly that—a rejection.

But rejection isn’t a bad word. We get “rejected” all the time and don’t slit our wrists over it. Didn’t get that job interview? Oh well, try again. Didn’t get that loan? Oh well, maybe in another six months. Got dumped by that person? Oh well, lots of fish in the sea. Rejection happens, repeatedly, throughout our lives, and we deal with it just fine in every other avenue, so why not with our writing? That’s my philosophy.  That’s part of the make-up in my stubbornness.  Take from it what you can, but suck it up and keep going.

And while it’s all well and good to be able to deal with rejection, sometimes there’s a little something-something that comes with it. Some key thing the editor didn’t say, but maybe your gut did, or that tiny voice that screams out occasionally from the back of your mind. And that’s what I got early last week.

I have a rule: nothing sits over night.  If it was a ‘positive’ rejection, it goes back out immediately.  Constructive may require some tweaking, and that gets done immediately.  But every once in a while, as I look over what’s coming back and needs to go out again, I realize that what I sent out sucked. But it didn’t suck when I sent it… I can only believe that it did indeed suck, but that as we grow as writers we learn the difference between thinking everything we write sucks, and knowing that we’ve changed enough that something really does suck. This wasn’t the lack of confidence suck. This was the slap in the forehead oh-my-god-I-let-someone-read-this-what-the-hell-was-I-thinking type of suck. And for that, I’d rather have a rejection than have something that truly does suck get published.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to de-suckify this short story, apologize to anyone I made read it, and see if I can’t find it an appropriate home…

Over the Rainbow…

Have you been to the message boards lately?  I have.  And you’ll notice, I haven’t said a word on many [ok, most] of them for quite a while.  The state of the genre is “off.”  Message boards that used to be great places to keep up on business and news and guidelines and such, have become playgrounds for the idiots among us.

This isn’t new.  We’ve known this for a while.  But I’ve been thinking, and realized that it isn’t new to us, but to the newbies out there, those just now finding the internet and the genre on a whole, it’s what they’re introduced to as “normal.”  To them I’d like to say, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!!”

Instead, watch what the main cast members say and how they act. Ignore the munchkin picking his nose because he thinks he’s off camera, and absolutely stay clear of the ones that know they’re on camera and do it anyway.  You want to move up the ladder?  Then you need to watch those above you on the ladder—not below you—and only those that are parallel to you if they’re also watching those above.  Follow Dorothy and the Tin Man and get where you need to go.  Leave the flying monkeys alone, and forget about those damn poppies.

This isn’t empty advice or even a rant, just an observation.  What’s happening in the genre is something akin to watching the Wizard of Oz, except instead of following the yellow brick road, all the new residents in Oz are just wandering through the woods trying to figure out why they haven’t been invited to the Emerald City.  The directors [board owners] are not yelling “Cut!” and leading anyone back to the path.  Rather, they’re handing them rotten apples and sending them into the fray to battle grumpy trees.  Of course, then our poor wanderers can’t figure out why everyone’s mad at them… well duh!  Read the script. There is a path to take, obstacles along the way, and a very clear road to follow that eventually leads to a runaway hot air balloon.

Wait, where was I going before this metaphor took over?  Oh yeah.  The genre is not Oz.  It has its up and downs, peaks and valleys, and right now we’re in the dank, scary cave at the bottom of the valley where, if you’re not careful, you can hit your head on the ceiling and end up thinking your house has flown over the rainbow to a new land where there are no rules and the little people with the loud squeaky voices are in charge.  They aren’t, and this isn’t Oz.  I promise.  It’s just a bad dream.  And eventually, everyone will wake up and realize that.  Then they’ll look around and proclaim the insanity of the land they visited and say you were there… and you were there… and you were there.  Do you really want to be one of the poor farmhands that is pointed out as being in la-la land?

To the newbies out there, follow the lead cast members and get your asses to the storm cellar.  It’s the best way to avoid being one of those that is forever smudged with the black mark of “newbie thinking this is normal goes batshit on boards… news at eleven!”  Sure, entertainment can be fun for a moment, but the net is forever, and the people you’re entertaining have memories and screen captures and notebooks.  Your antics will not be forgotten and you’ll have to work hard to even attain the status of forgiven.  To the munchkins picking their noses, well… Kleenex is an option, but I see you’ve already used your shirt sleeve.

This post brought to you by Dueling Blogs, a sick and twisted pastime of Maury’s and mine that involves long phone calls that usually end with “We should blog about that!” 

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