Oh, rejection. It’s a shriveled orange. It’s the spider inside the banana. It’s a human’s lot and a writer’s eighty-acre wood. And if anxiety, or depression, or introversion runs in your blood then rejection can threaten to upend any false sense of security you may be holding on to. Rejection is not for the faint-of-heart.
It’s alright to go home and cry. Really, go ahead. Rejection can hurt worse than stubbing your toe. But fortunately, like a throbbing toe, you get over it. Although, I don’t spend too much time lamenting my rejections these days (I have had too many to count), on my worst days, I just breathe deeply and try not to let the resentment win. And for the most part I am doing well. But today, I heard my heart suggested reasons to get angry.
What’s the point? Am I ever going to get a break? Will I always be working a job that I have zero passion for? All I want to do is dedicate myself to the acquisition and production of knowledge. I have the overflowing bookshelves to prove it. I have the 4am wake-up to prove it. I have the butt-in-chair time to prove it. I have the body aches and ergonomic keyboard to prove it. I have thousands of manuscript pages to prove it. So why-oh-why am I getting rejected around the clock?
As a person of faith, my human heart even suggested reasons to be mad at God for every ounce of rejection that I have been receiving lately (there’s also been the rejection of my heart from a certain special someone two days ago). Although it is hard to see, the image below is a screenshot of my recent email inbox (I write this in March of 2017). All of the highlights are rejections of my manuscript or my grad school applications (MFA in creative writing). I received the top two rejections today.
There is a tried and true formula that many can attest to: Anger – Frustration – Resentment – Scorn/Never Write Again. Who Cares. No one has it worse than me. It’s tried and true because if followed it will guarantee the death of your writing career. It will turn you into the worm inside your own apple. Nothing will defeat you faster than a bad attitude.
Fortunately there is a more positive, faith-filled, formula: Disappointment. Take a breath. Reevaluate/I am going to publish this book no matter what. No one is going to stop me. I will do whatever it takes. It might cause me to do some things I’ve never done before (self-publish, start marketing myself (as an author) like crazy, pay for an editor, etc).
I still have a few publishers who have not responded to my book, but already I am reevaluating my next steps. I have to really consider the fact that there may be no one willing to publish this work. But I believe in it and so it will be published. This is how I will turn this rejection into edible fruit. This rejection just may cause me to dig in that much deeper. You never know what rejection can inspire until it happens to you. But it is not the rejection that makes the writer. It is what the writer does with the rejection that makes the writer. So welcome it with open arms, and when it comes in for a hug, strangle the life out of it. And then get back to work.
(Below is the actual redacted email I received from the publisher on 3-14-17.)
Dear Josef Miyasato,
RE: “Whether by Mine Own Voice…” An Argument for Orthodoxy. Book 1 – The Prophets
Thank you for giving ______ the opportunity to review your manuscript entitled “Whether by Mine Own Voice…” An Argument for Orthodoxy. Book 1 – The Prophets. We’re very sorry for the delay getting back to you.
We appreciate your willingness to share your personal experiences and message of faith with others. You have obviously put a tremendous amount of time, thought, and energy into this project, and it received a lot of positive feedback. You’re a talented writer.
As you may know, we have seen more manuscripts submitted than ever before with fewer slots to fill. Needless to say, our publishing schedule is quite competitive, and as we look carefully at all the issues involved in publication, we must be extremely selective in our publishing decisions. After much deliberation, we have reluctantly decided we are not in a position to pursue this project with you. While the content of your manuscript is strong, we have prior commitment to a similar project and aren’t convinced that we could publish your book successfully.
I’m very sorry for this disappointing news but hope that you’ll understand the reasons for our decision. Although we cannot publish your manuscript at this time, we would encourage you to try submitting to other publishers. Occasionally we let a manuscript go that one of them picks up and publishes successfully, and the converse has also been true. I would recommend that you begin with ___________.
We’re confident that your insights will help others, and that you’ll find the right time and circumstances to share them. Thank you so much for giving us a chance to consider this idea—and thank you for your patience with us in the process. We wish you well in all your writing endeavors.
With warm regards,