I’m always on the lookout for unique word combinations, but this one took me by surprise. I couldn’t imagine a more unlikely word pair than “celebrate rejection” and an even more unlikely source: an interview with Susan Sarandon.
How does one of Hollywood’s most talented leading ladies celebrate rejection? Whenever Ms. Sarandon didn’t get a role, she'd go out for dinner or buy herself an album. In leaner times, she treated herself to an avocado. But more importantly, she did not dwell on it. She had a knack for replacing the negative self-talk with positive and affirming statements such as, This means I’m now available for something else.
Having received my own share of rejection letters during the past five years, I must admit I wasn’t always able to bounce back so quickly. It took a while to develop that thick skin and move on to the next project.
Some suggestions to help you celebrate rejection:
1. Stop counting.
When you focus on the number of rejections, you can easily get discouraged and decide to stop after a certain number. Several months ago, a young writer asked me, “Did you get more than 17 rejections?” Either she had stopped querying or was considering it.
“I can’t be sure, but somewhere between 50 and 100,” I said.
Her eyes popped.
While I didn’t count, I did use a chart to keep track of my query letters. I set up a spreadsheet with the following columns and completed each row as the agents responded.
- Date Sent
- Date of Response
2. Look for patterns.
If you're receiving only form letters with variations of the phrases “not suitable at this time” or “we are not taking on new clients,” you may not be following all the agency’s requirements. Visit the websites of those agents and reread their submission requirements. Consider getting a professional critique from a published author, editor or writing instructor. Take note of any specific comments or constructive criticism offered by the agents. For example: “I enjoyed reading your novel, but couldn’t relate to the protagonist” or “Have you considering using a third-person POV?”
3. Destroy the evidence.
I'm always amazed by authors who brag about having enough rejection letters to paper the walls of their homes or overtake several in-boxes on their computers. Form rejection letters, in particular, contribute nothing to a writer’s future success. So, why not get rid of these negative reminders that can create infestations in your mind and life.
4. Keep the positive rejections.
I didn’t think it was possible to get a positive rejection, but when I received the following e-mail from a literary agent in Boston, I celebrated over dinner with friends. “Thank you so much for sending this to me. It sounded so wonderful that I put my afternoon aside to look at it right away. There’s a lot to like in here; you have a fresh, quirky voice that I enjoyed. However, I think that this may be a bit light for my personal taste. And so I am going to step aside. You will very easily find representation for this work. Best of luck! And again, thank you so much for sharing your work with me!”
It took a while, but her prediction did come true. On Thursday, January 31, 2013, Senior Editor Debby Gilbert of Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract for Between Land and Sea, a paranormal romance about a middle-aged mermaid.
Best of luck to you!
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