Four Ways to Handle REJECTION! Without Chocolate

Drought tolerant plants in bloom

Drought tolerant plants in bloom

I’ve been thinking for awhile about how writers deal with rejection letters and about how grateful I am for some past rejections—how they forced me to grow as a writer, to improve my stories bit-by-bit, and to move closer to the emotional truth I want to communicate.

That’s what I was going to say the day before yesterday . . . and, actually, I will again someday . . . just not today.

I received an evaluation (not the first) of a picture book manuscript I’ve worked on for more years than I want to admit.

Any clues why this came out so blue?

Any clues why this came out so blue?

Yesterday I felt caught in professional opinions revolving in different directions. Do I truly need to take out what someone else (equally knowledgeable and professional) thought I should put in?

I feel bruised and in need of a whine—I have worked long and hard on this piece—and made my long-suffering husband read so many versions, his head is probably spinning too.

So here are the options:

Throw self on bed and kick. (Didn’t help.)

Choose to believe the reviewer didn’t know as much as the other readers who didn’t identify the same problems she did. Send the manuscript out as is.

Music to my ears

Music to my ears

Accept it’s time to pull up the big-girl panties, and face what she said. Rereading comments almost always helps me see them a bit differently.

On the plus side, she did say “ . . . illustrators (sic)* dream!” and “The imagery and simile is (sic) lovely,” and “You have such a nice way with language.”

When I think about the negatives, I can, after a day, see what she’s saying. The story is written with two arcs*. The important one, the one that conveys what I’m trying to say, is fine.

A weed in my garden!

A weed in my garden!

But the story that supports the telling of the main arc is weak. I didn’t think that second arc needed to have the same problem, tension, resolution as the first.

I guess it does. And she’s right, it will be difficult to do.
The reviewer did give me an out: simply take out that second story arc. Make the story shorter than it’s current 522 words. (Fewer words add up to a plus in picture books.)

I was sure my main character had spunk . . . but truthfully, she’s no Olivia (Ian Falconer’s character). Maybe I need to go deeper into my inner child?

My inner child clung to stories as to a life-line. She now wants to pay that forward with something both true and beautiful. But my scaredy-cat inner child wasn’t that great of a model for a character in a story that’s not about dealing with fearfulness. Her character needs to wait for a different story.

If this critique helps reach my goal, I will be grateful, but not until, at least, tomorrow or the day after that.

If "rocks" can bloom, I can handle a bit of constructive criticism.

If “rocks” can bloom, I can handle a bit of constructive criticism.

In the meantime, I’m thankful for the now-successful writers who share the number of rejections they accumulated. I’m not even close to those numbers yet so I’m not ready to exercise option 4) Give up.

*sic: A mistake in the original that the quoter is aware of but stays true to the original. In this case, tiny errors that do not confuse any issues.
*arc:  The curve of the story plot from presentation of the problem, rising tension, and resolution of the problem.

Ok, ok. Sometimes, like buds, stories need time to open.

Ok, ok. Sometimes, like buds, stories need time to open.

Note: If so desired, chocolate can be used in conjunction with any of the above options.

P.S. I’m getting some ideas . . .