A Great Rejection

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Picture by Jose Mª Izquierdo Galiot via Flickr creative commons
Picture by Jose Mª Izquierdo Galiot via Flickr creative commons

I recently received a rejection which reminded me of why, as writers, we shouldn’t let these things get us down:

Dear Mr Knighton,

As an aging romantic, I absolutely loved the story. However, one of my slushers is a former US Navy diesel mechanic with very strong opinions about where the fanboys that make puppy eyes at her when she dresses up in her boiler suit and tool belt can stick it. She’d love to have a beer with you sometime, just so she can give you an earful for having that guy get that that girl in the end.
I’d sit well back. She carries a long spanner.
with regrets,
[name redacted as they wanted to stay anonymous]

 

Personally, I thought that was an awesome rejection. It was encouraging and specific. It makes clear that the reason for the rejection was the tastes of the people behind the magazine, not any fault of mine. I want to submit to these folks again, even if they never accept my stories, because they deserve the chance to have the pick of anything good I produce, and I trust them with it.

As writers, we’re constantly told not to get disheartened by rejections. Most are form emails that don’t tell you why your story wasn’t accepted. You can end up staring at the screen, convincing yourself that you suck. And sure, they’re sometimes a sign that you should improve your writing, but that’s hardly a big revelation – we should all be constantly trying to improve.

If the rejection tells you how you could improve, that’s brilliant. But a lot of the time, the story just wasn’t a good fit, for reasons that aren’t about writing quality. Maybe the magazine had received enough werewolf stories already. Maybe the editor doesn’t like stories with elements from westerns. Maybe there was just a diesel engineer at the other end of the line, with a not unreasonable aversion to being drooled over.

Whatever the rejections, keep at it. Some day you’ll get through.

 

And remember, my new book A Mosaic of Stars, collecting together over a year’s worth of weekly short stories, is out now on Kindle. It’s only 99c for the first week, so go make the most of the bargain.