I received another rejection, this time for a flash fiction piece. I'm disappointed, of course, but not shocked. I'm still trying to get my head around flash fiction as a format. I guess the same could be said about my short stories, none of them have sold yet, either :)
Managing discouragement -in other words, growing a thicker skin- is an important part of being a writer. The reasons for rejection are leigon but they are rarely personal. Sometimes, they aren't even related to the quality of the work, so far as I can tell.
Then there is the normal shocks of life that come to everyone, writer or not: money problems, job problems, relationship problems. It can be tempting to forget writing. To accept that you're not good enough. To stop trying. To curl up with a book or a movie instead of staying up and trying to rewrite something for the sixth time.
I don't know how to tell anyone how to get published. But I have had a lifetime of rejection and I might be able to help other writers deal with it.
1. Do the work. That means, write as best you can. Proofread, catch all the typos you are able to see. Learn how to form sentences and paragraphs. Study great writers of the past and the present. Write from your heart, write the things you love, not what people tell you is hot.
2. Try again. Send your work out. As soon as you get a reject, while the sinking feeling is in your chest, while the stinging pain is still alive, send that manuscript somewhere else. Duotrope.com is the best resource I've found for finding markets. Ideally, you've picked out all the pro markets for your book or short story. When you get rejected by one, immediately send it out again.
3. It's not about you. If you've done the work, written as best as you can, if you used complete sentences and punctuated the way Strunk and White said...then it's not about you. It's about THEM. What they were looking for, what their mood was, what their personal tastes are. You're not likely to get a Hunter S. Thompson rejection letter strewn with expletitives and insults. No one has time anymore. So it's not personal. That doesn't mean THEY are stupid or wrong, either. It just was the wrong story for the wrong market or for the wrong person. See step 2, try again.
4. Write something you love. If you get rejected after writing something you were 'supposed' to write, this is critical. But you should be writing what you love all along. Don't try to be literary if you don't like literary fiction. Don't write mysteries if you don't love mysteries. Write a poem, create a bad ass character and have him/her kick some righteous ass, write something for yourself. Reward yourself. Remind yourself that you love writing. Then, send it out. Who knows?
5. There are no consequences for failing except the ones you put on yourself. This may not apply to full-time writers. But I suspect, even for them, they can't afford to think about consequences when they write or submit. So you submittted a story or novel and it got turned down. Big deal. No one is going to curse your name and automatically throw your next work in the trash as soon as they see your by line. You didn't waste your time, no time spent writing honestly and the best you could is wasted. You wrote. You learned. You will get better. You tried, you failed. Big deal. See point 2, try again.
6. Write something upbeat. It can be cathartic to immediately write something dark and emo. Do it if you have to but immediately CHOOSE to write something brighter right afterwards. Optimism is a choice, it doesn't come naturally to everyone. It can be a bold choice, a revolutionary choice. A happy ending isn't a cliche, it is defiance. Defy your failure, defy your mood, defy your pain. Write the world the way it should be, not the way it is. What you write can affect your mood just as surely as the other way around.
Well, that's all I have for now. I hope it helps.