Many of you may know me as the very, very, very rejected writer/cat lady. There is truly no avenue of writing-related rejection that I have yet to go through – or at least, that’s what it feels like. I could recap all the rejections for you in chronological order, but I do believe I have done so many times before, namely here and here.
If you clicked on any of those links above, you’ll notice I love sharing my writing failures. But why am I so keen to share? Well, for two reasons:
1) to make you feel better in solidarity and;
2) because my misfortunes are pretty damn hilarious due to their overwhelming and never-ending march toward my inbox (and makes for great blog fodder!)
Today, I want to highlight one particular story that you might have heard before. It relates to the time I applied for a string of volunteer writing positions for online magazines and websites. ‘Volunteer’ being the golden word. Because who actually gets rejected from volunteer positions?? Bad writers like me, right?
We all know that the writing world is subjective to a certain degree. The way an editor, publisher, agent or judge interprets your work will always be influenced by their own unique perspectives, prejudices and particular tastes. Once you add shifting market demands, you can see why it’s so incredibly hard to figure out what the hell all those creative gatekeepers are actually looking for! To their credit, subjectivity is not something anyone can avoid.
I’m very much used to my work being rejected, but a few years ago I received an exceptionally mean rejection letter for a volunteer position at an online writing magazine (that I was particularly fond of). When I came across their position opening, I may or may not have squealed in excitement.
After I passed the ‘resume stage’, I was asked to submit a ‘test article’. I ended up spending around 10 hours writing, researching and editing my article to what I thought was perfection, paying extra special attention to the subject matter to make sure it would slot into their curated collection of writing-related articles, ranging from such titles as ‘5 Writing Rules to Avoid at All Costs’ and ‘10 Reasons Why Your Query Letter Sucks’ – or something there abouts.
A few days after submitting the article, of which I was particularly proud, the editor sent me an email. It was not a positive one. In the opening line she launched straight into describing my article’s many deficiencies. I was shocked. I was confused. I was heartbroken.
No surprise, I couldn’t bring myself to reply.
To make matters worse, I had always loved their website and had been following it religiously for years (I have changed tack and no longer submit to my favourite sites so as not to interfere in my daily indulgence). I even secretly believed the editor and I would get along famously as friends, sipping wine at a trendy bar gossiping about whatever it is writer’s gossip about.
To this day I have no clue what the editor was thinking – she had to know what a newbie I was – perhaps she wanted to pull me down a peg? In any case, she nearly succeeded. It took me almost 2 years to get the confidence to publish the article to my own blog.
Which brings us to the pointy end… a few months ago I decided to post my unwanted article, not wanting to waste the ten hours I had spent researching the damn thing. All I had to do was make a few *ahem* editorial changes, add a sprinkling of cats and voila! The article was ready!
I didn’t tell you guys the story behind the article when I published it, as I wanted to post it completely blind to see if it was as bad as the editor had made out. And guess what? It went on to be one of the most popular articles I’ve ever written! It has about two times the views as my normal articles, which just goes to show…
…the writing business truly is subjective (or perhaps you guys are just really, really nice?) Whatever you do, don’t let one person’s remarks get you down. You’re going to face a lot of hard rejection in this game and it will never be easy. But take it from me – you can turn that rejection around. Whether it’s by creating a Stephen-King-like paper sculpture or building a successful blog – just make sure you turn those rejections into the fuel you need to succeed.
(Legit, a few seconds ago I received another rejection email, probably at the exact moment I wrote the word succeed. I’m not even joking. It’s been two months since I’ve received a rejection email and I had to get one now? Time to take my own advice!)
Lots of love to you all!