“Now what should I do?”
I’ve returned home from a writers conference with permission from several publishers to send my proposal. I work and re-work to get all my wording just right. I tweak and tighten until I’m convinced it is perfect. Then I send it off and wait anxiously for what seems to be the right amount of time. When no answer comes, I try to talk myself into a little more patience.
Then one day, I open the mailbox and see a letter from a publisher. My heart races. Could this be my acceptance at last? Holding the precious envelope to my chest, I race up the driveway to the house and then tear it open with shaky fingers.
” We want this to be the most encouraging rejection letter you’ve ever received . . “
While this scenario was fiction, the phrase from the rejection letter was actually real. It went on to tell me how close the committee came to choosing my work and their rationale for declining it. So, while not exactly encouraging, it was helpful. But my emotions didn’t want helpful. They wanted acceptance. I felt the setback as surely as if I’d been physically pushed to sit in a chair.
Rejection is the fear all writers have. What do we do when it comes? The Bible gives us a clear answer. Joshua 8:1 says, “. . . do not fear or be dismayed . . .” The Israelites had suffered a tremendous defeat by a marginal enemy. Joshua didn’t understand why, but when he asked God, the Lord told him what had gone wrong. Achan had stolen booty from the fall of Jericho. After finding the perpetrator and getting rid of him, the Lord spoke to Joshua in verse one. Verse three says, “Joshua arose . . .” He got up and made plans which were then carried out. These were not just any old plans that he dreamed up. They were God-given instructions.
When our writing projects are rejected, it seems, on the surface, like a setback. Here are a few tips for handling rejections:
1. Recognize that only real writers ever get rejections because we must have written and actually submitted something in order to be rejected. That is an accomplishment.
2. See if you can glean any editorial help from the content of the letter. In the case I quoted, there were several helpful tips for re-working my idea, should I decide I wanted to try publishing with this company again. This was for a periodical, so I may. Book publishers might not give you much to go on here. Usually, they just let you know your project wouldn’t work for them.
3. Remember that your project may have been a victim of bad timing. Look for the phrase “at this time.”
4. Ideas are not always unique to us, so somebody else may have beat you to the punch. This happened to me with another periodical.
Follow Joshua’s lead and get up and listen for new instructions. God has a plan for your writing as surely as he did for Joshua’s fighting.
Photo: Erika Lair