Impractical Unsolicited Advice
Want to Improve Your Writing? Get Rejected
Rejections are feathers on a writer’s cap
I am the consummate unsuccessful writer — the kind that lurks at the periphery of the established writers’ playground. Remember that kid sitting alone in the park because no one would play with them? The awkward, timid one cut off from the usual boisterous crowd? Yeah, I am their adult version in the metaphorical writing playground.
This is the sob story of my emancipation.
The process of enlightenment began about a year ago. I sent out poetry, creative non-fiction, and short stories into the abyss of the publishing world since everybody is a nobody until officially ‘published.’
Then I refreshed my inbox every day in hopes of an editor congratulating me on a job well done, how my writing had reinvented the wheel, and how fortunate they were to have stumbled upon the gem.
Unfortunately, nobody ever replied. I stared into this black hole that gorged on my thoughts and ideas without burping out the applause I craved. I sat silently in my dark bedroom and wept. Then I wrote a poem about my despair. Later, I sent it out to some magazine that begged me to stop pestering them with my emo crap.
Of course, I gleaned that from their usual radio silence.
Those were my days of naivete, and I pity my past self. I read numerous self-help articles and watched countless videos tutoring amateurs on how to break into the writing industry. Well, these tutors broke into the industry with their penchant for disbursing unsolicited advice. I diligently took note of this trend.
Hence this write-up.
At the same time, I read curated and published articles that paled in comparison to my exceptional content. Perhaps I needed to dumb down my superlative prose. Here I was expecting simpletons to appreciate the nuances of my intellectual inklings when they would rather consume mediocrity. My bad!
Today, I am a rejection junkie. I crave rejection as validation that my writing is still meandering in the slush pile. ‘At this time, however, we have chosen to decline’ is the mantra to live by.
The beauty of perpetual rejection, like perpetual tickling, is that you become immune over time. The goal is to invite different forms of rejection. For example —
- The benevolent ‘It’s not you, it’s us’ — “We take this responsibility seriously — to massage your ego by appreciating your boldness and vulnerability in sharing your art with us — while secretly mocking your desperation. However, we have chosen to decline because your work, though outstanding, exceptional, and other synonyms of ‘great’ that we cannot recollect right now, is not suited for our publication at this time. We are so not worthy of your magnum opus.”
Yeah! Your content is vermin, anyway.
- The no-nonsense ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ — I like these much better. They are pretty straightforward with one or two sentences that hit the bull’s eye: “Thank you for your content, but we have decided to turn you away. Get back in touch when your writing doesn’t suck. HAHA!”
I can almost picture the gleeful intern typing out the message with a half-eaten bagel by their side.
- The Quiet ones. These are the ones so inundated with bad pitches every second that they cannot spare a moment to send a personalized rejection. You are just a drop in the putrid ocean of subpar content, not the diamond in the rough they are looking for, wannabe writer.
Pfft! You don’t deserve their valuable feedback, the constructive critique reserved for the truly talented.
All these responses don’t elicit the tears they used to anymore. What’s the famous adage? Failure is the ladder to success with broken rungs on the way, try, try but don’t cry, yada yada — you catch my drift.
So, buck up and endure. These editors don’t possess the cerebral wavelength to appreciate your skills. They can’t distinguish between good and bad writing with all the coffee and bagel clouding their minds. Or is it donuts? Who knows!
If you think these gatekeepers are keeping you away, go right ahead and self-publish your treasure. Gatecrash the party and show them how it’s done. Self-publishing was invented by someone from our ilk of dejected rejects. Publish, publish, and publish some more on your own. Embrace it!
But if your book’s not an instant bestseller, recollect your rejection adventure. Tabulate your findings in a spreadsheet or prepare a slideshow and sell it with the ‘What Rejection From Publishers Taught Me’ or ‘41 Sure-fire Ways To Turn Rejections Into A Success Story’ or ‘Want To Improve Your Writing: Get Rejected’ title.
HA! You shall have the last laugh!
Feel free to borrow some pointers from this article to get started on that rejection adventure treatise.