It comes with the territory of trying to become a professional author, but rejection still stings. I know fear of that pain is why many people I know have written stories that will never see the light of day.
For me, I have a couple of metaphors running around in my head when I submit stories to various publications and agencies, only to have them be rejected:
First, is the metaphor that my stories are like homeless pets. I feel like I’m their foster parent, and it’s my job to find their forever home. This metaphor helps to slightly lessen the sting because I can simply say to myself, “Well, then clearly that publication wasn’t meant to be this story’s forever home. I’ll keep looking.”
The second is dating. When I was younger, I felt the same sting of rejection from people I liked or even loved as I do now when I get that email starting with “Unfortunately…” A lot of publications may have realized this similarity, too, because I’ve noticed some have added words of comfort at the end of their rejection letters that amount to “It’s not you, it’s me.” Words like “Please note that this is a subjective industry” or “Please note that we reject up to 80% of what gets sent to us.”
It doesn’t help, to be honest. Much like, I think, it doesn’t help anyone during a breakup or any other kind of rejection to hear such words.
Every now and then I think “Maybe I’m just not meant to be an author,” and that could be the case, but I would love to learn that unhappy discovery on my deathbed, preferably at a ripe old age. Until then, I’m going to keep plodding along, nursing my rejection wounds and hoping I can find publications that will be my stories’ forever homes.
One podcast that has helped bolster my confidence comes from CBC, and it’s called “We Regret to Inform You”
The podcast focuses on some major Hollywood star, TV show, film or even brand that was repeatedly and horrendously rejected just before the breakthrough came. Hearing the show, I can only slightly commiserate with many of the rejections people like Ed Sheeran have endured, but it gives me hope that maybe if I keep going, something good will happen.
However, I also have to wonder how many countless others have gone through the same kinds of trials these major stars and major films survived, only to not make it out the other side victorious. How many great ideas, great actors, great stories have we lost along the way?