This week's post is a light-hearted look at what is, for writers, a serious subject.

Definition of rejectionitis: state of mental and emotional health a writer experiences after work is rejected. Symptoms may include excessive chocolate, pizza and alcohol intake, as well as the sudden desire for a new wardrobe or other material items not normally viewed as necessary. Wringing of hands, banging of head, overreacting to events with screaming fits, floods of tears or utter silence for weeks on end are quite common.

None, but a blessed few (and nobody I’ve ever met), go through life without having to deal with rejection because it’s part of life. When you want something, you generally have to work hard, experience some rejection along the way, learn and move forward. 

Attempting to put your short story, poem or novel out into the public arena is no different. 

If, after you’ve polished your work till your eyes bleed and your fingers are worn to stubs with typing, you decide to go the traditional route, submitting your piece to publishers and agents can be a painful, and sometimes brutal, experience. If you decide to go the self-publishing route, and despite your best efforts at marketing, your book etc., fails to sell, it can leave you equally disheartened. Rejection is a possibility that has to be considered, as there is no guarantee of success. 

In preparation for the next stage of this writing adventure – submitting my ms to agents and publishers (and simultaneously preparing the document for epublishing),  I’ve come up with a plan of action for dealing with the rejection which I’m sure to receive - I'm working on the premise that you can’t please all the people all of the time. I hope it will be of some help to others experiencing this condition. 

Publishers and agents are people. They have chosen to work in this field because there is something about stories, words and books that attracts them, but – and this is a big but – it is a job. The question they have to ask themselves is - will this author/book make money for me? A Bengali proverb says, ‘when in doubt, don’t’ and if you make that ‘when in doubt, and in an economic downturn’ that becomes a double don’t. The emergence of digital, indie and self-publishing success stories is making the big publishing companies more cautious as their profits shrink. All of which makes breaking into the market harder for unknown writers.

Publishers and agents are human and therefore are subject to making mistakes, just like everyone else. Memorize some facts from this list (see links below) of successful authors who were refused any number of times, before ultimately finding a publisher and a readership. This doesn't automatically put your work into the same category, but don't dismiss or sneer at the opportunity to find consolation - it can reinforce your determination.

Think about how you felt when you were writing. Did you enjoy it or wish you’d done something else with your time? If it’s the former, then move on, you’ve lost nothing by your efforts to get your work out there; if it’s the latter, then maybe you should be doing something else.

Stop playing Pink’s ‘Mean’ and start playing Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Stronger’.

Compile your own list of positive aphorisms – repeat them often. It takes a little time for messages to penetrated the subconscious, but persevere and you’ll be up singing with the dawn chorus in no time.

Start your next project – immediately. The excitement and absorption of writing a new story/poem will rekindle your enthusiasm, as well as reminding you of why you started to write in the first place.

On a final note, here's a quote from Isaac Asimov: 'You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.'

Today’s Haiku
only tourists have
umbrellas on Orkney Isle –
horizontal rain 

Useful links: 
The comments given to authors with the return of their manuscripts makes for humorous reading.
This link has the sales of some very famous authors who were rejected.  

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku

To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

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