Swings & Misses II: The Rejection Streak
Posted on February 8, 2018
by Aeryn Rudel
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know rejections don’t generally bother me. I accept them as just part and parcel with the whole writing gig, a necessary aspect of improving at the craft. One writer friend even described my apparent immunity to the rejection blues as my writerly super power. (Why can’t it be some kind of spidey sense about which markets will accept my stories?) Well, damn it if I didn’t go and find my kryptonite. It’s not any one rejection or any specific type of rejection. It’s, uh, 27 rejections in a row.
Yes, friends, I have hit the longest rejection streak in my writing career. It doesn’t cover a large stretch of time, only a couple of months, but goddamn if it doesn’t feel like years. Despite the temptation to turn this post in to a woe-is-me affair, that’s not my style (or my brand), so I’m gonna engage my aforementioned anti-rejection super power and do these things instead.
- Send more submissions. I’m a firm believe in ABS. No, not anti-lock breaking systems (though, those are good too). I mean Always Be Submitting. Yep, I find one of the best cures for the rejection blues is to get those stories right back out there, especially if they’re getting “good” rejections, which leads me to my next point.
- Apply rejectomancy. As you know, rejectomancy is the arcane practice of trying to divine what a rejection means. It’s also the practice of staying objective about rejections. They’re not personal, they don’t (always) mean you’ve written a bad story, and sometimes they can tell you if a story has legs but just needs a different market. So, even though 27 is a lot of rejections, it includes a lot of good rejections: personal rejections and higher tier rejections from pro markets. In other words, it doesn’t hurt to look for the silver lining.
- Write more stuff. If your current batch of stories isn’t landing (for whatever reason), then get started on the next batch, hopefully after you’ve learned a few things from all the rejections you’ve received. Even if you feel like your current stories are fine and their forever homes are just around the corner, working on, and more importantly, finishing new material can be a nice confidence booster. Continuing to create when you’re dealing with a little adversity is a good skill to develop and maintain.
- Get a little help from my friends. Writing can be a lonely business, and it’s easy to feel isolated and alone when you’re dealing with a rough patch. That’s why I think it’s really important to surround yourself with supportive writer pals. There’s a couple of reasons for this. One, it’s always nice to get a little pep talk (or a much-needed kick in the ass) here and there from people who know you and your work. Two, it’s vitally important, in my opinion, to see that other writers are going through the same things you are. Now, I’m not talking about schadenfreude (being happy about someone else’s setbacks is a dick move). It’s about solidarity and understanding that rejection and maybe even the dreaded rejection streak is not unique to YOU. Lots of writers suffers through these things at some point.
That’s how I deal with the rejection blues: submit more, write more, apply rejectomancy, and get a little help from my friends. I have no doubt these practices will see me through to my next acceptance, at which point I’ll wonder why I was being such a whiner in the first place. 🙂
Until next time, stay positive and happy writing.
If you switched points 2 and 3, you could say SWAG beats the rejection blues.
Joking aside, good points 🙂
Damn. Missed opportunity. I could trademark that! 🙂
A timely read for me. Blogged the other day about getting four rejections in six days. Day seven? Yup. Another non-acceptance in my inbox. Five in one week was a bit of a stinger. But then this time last year I was getting no rejections because I wasn’t sending anything out there – so this year is an improvement, right?
Good advice about writing new stuff. Definitely helps with the blues 🙂
Yeah, five in a week is a dose, for sure. I agree with you, though, getting five rejections in a week is markedly better than getting no rejections because you’re not submitting. Hey, thanks for the comment and follow. 🙂
Looking forward to reading more on here 😁
I’m not certain what my longest consecutive number of rejections might be, but I recently experienced one of my longest time gaps between acceptances, receiving an acceptance on October 30, 2017, and not receiving another until January 9, 2018.
The time frame for mine is similar. My last acceptance was December 5th.
Well, it does me some good to hear that even a writer of your caliber and experience can have a slow couple of months. Looks like January was a good month for you, though. 🙂
And before I forget, big congrats on making the Best American Mystery Stories 2018. Another of my writer pals, Andrew Bourelle, also made the cut. Gonna have to pick up a copy of that for sure.
I’m curious what your streak was when you first began submitting, or where you a good (and lucky) writer from the beginning? I’m just starting out, but my own streak stands at 29 currently. Though I am far from claiming to be a good writer, I’m hoping this streak ends sooner rather than later.
Hi, Jason. That’s a good question. I had to go back dig that up. Looks like I received 23 rejections before I sold my first short story. Though I too won’t claim to be a “good” author, I do believe there is quite a bit of luck involved in publishing. Sure, you have to write a good story, but I believe you also have to put that story in front of the right editor at the right time. So hang in there, keep submitting, and your luck will turn. 🙂
Thanks for the encouragement. Looks like my streak will end at 31. Also liked “Night Games” on Pseudopod. It was a great way to start the season.
Congrats on ending the streak. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed “Night Games.”