Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bad Rejections Happen

I've been contemplating how to phrase this post without coming across as bitchy, finger pointy or starting some small call out war. I don't want any of that.

But here it is as honestly as I can put it: bad rejections happen, and they have to be contextualized for a writer to move on.

I'm not talking about the sort of rejection of a submission you had really high hopes for - a favourite market perhaps, or a story you really believe in. I mean a rejection that comes back with not very complimentary feedback. There's constructive criticism on how to improve, and then there's "this is an utter piece of crap and you should seriously contemplate your worth as a writer".

I got the latter last week.

It took me a while to process what to do with it, considering that in the days previous I'd received two very encouraging rejections, and the flow of feedback over the last few months has been steadily positive. I had to read the letter three times to make sure I wasn't missing some sort of 'wink nudge', and once I figured out yes, this is some passive aggressive nastiness going on here, then I couldn't help but laugh. I wanted to share the letter with so many people, but then I recalled how many internet bun fights have happened and reputations burned by call outs like that. I made a promise to myself that I would remain as positive and circumspect as possible when blogging about my rejections.

I have nothing personally against the market or the people, I don't know them. The rejection made me realize I'd misjudged the market, and they'd missed some fundamental concepts in my story. We were at cross purposes. We probably wouldn't be a satisfactory fit, perhaps that style of specfic is not for me. I recognize my style and grammatical failings. That's fairy snuff; not all my ideas and stories play out well on first go around, and not all markets or editors are interested in my style of specfic.

I am very happy writing my style, and I'm super proud that I've found a niche I like. However, I expect a modicum of common courtesy. It's not easy to put yourself out there. Even numerous form rejections are easier to take than one verbose rejection on all your perceived writerly failings.

While I'm not a writer with any sort of influence in this industry, I'd like to stand up for the little people, the people like me just getting started, and say hey, constructive criticism is great but personal attacks and refusal to understand certain themes are not. I'm not asking for my precious fee-fees to be protected. I need to know how to get better. But a mean-spirited rejection can be construed as a shut down tactic by marginalized groups who have historically been silenced or shut out of the industry. We're supposed to be in this together. Naive? Well hey, that's me, the eternal optimist.

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