Lisa McSherry dot com

The online home for Lisa McSherry, author and priestess


As I mentioned in this post, the key difference between a writer and author is the latter puts their work out for public scrutiny. Therefore it logically follows that authors must develop a thick skin and acceptance that their work will be rejected.

Does it help to know that all great writers have had their work rejected? Some of them received the dreaded “no” many, many times. (Ray Bradbury received hundreds of rejections.) As Maya Angelou put it, “for every accomplishment there were twenty rejections.” Which means we need to get used to these pages, these precious words, being turned away. People we don’t know will tell you the work isn’t good, isn’t valid, or just plain isn’t for them.

If we’re lucky, very lucky, we get some feedback. Maybe we use too much passive voice, have no idea what a comma is, or don’t completely deliver what we promised. Times like those are precious because we can do something with that information; we can improve our writing.

Mostly we just get told it’s “not a good fit.”

Which is fine, as rejection goes. That means we misjudged the publisher’s interest, or our market. While not fun to hear, it’s easy enough to re-package the proposal and send it off to another publisher. There is a market for your work, somewhere. I like to remind myself of Stephen King’s slog to find a publisher for his first novel, Carrie. In his excellent memoir/ writing treatise On Writing he talks about how Carrie was rejected more than 30 times. You might want to emulate King and keep the rejection letters in a prominent place to goad you.

The thing is, we can’t stop writing.

For me, it’s usually a matter of having something more to say outside of my (relatively) small circle of acquaintances. I think it’ll do someone, somewhere, good to read what I write, so I have to try and put it out there. Writing is also an offering to my primary Deity, an act of worship I engage in almost daily in some form or another.

The truth is, I’d write even if I never found an audience. Rejection is just a fact of life, a part of my wanting to get my work “out there.”


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