31 May 2010

Rejections: To Be Or Not To Be...

I consider myself a good story teller. I am not so sure that carries over to being a good story writer or a good editor. I can easily count up the number of rejections I have on my stories because every one is in a folder on my computer. Then there all the implied rejections that float in the dust of silence. I don't like the rejection part of being a writer.

A sudden shift in some warp drive left me open to accepting an internship as an acquisitions assistant editor. That is reading query letters, synopses, and manuscripts. The key is internship, I believe, and it is very hard work for no pay. On a professional basis it could lead to paying positions in the future if I wanted to stick with it. It is a line item that can slip into a resume and bear some weight. Yet, on a personal basis I am not sure I'd want to expend the time needed to fill a full time position where my words are dashed off in short notes that end up dashing the hopes of other writers.

On day one I received a synopsis and first chapter and thinking I was reporting to the editor and publisher wrote up my comments. Other than being completely oblivious to the active voice and passive voice, the former not used and the latter overused, to which the publisher roundly chastised me, my comments were used as the rejection letter to the editor. Yes, mine. I was the one who yanked the cord that released the guillotine. There was enough to the story that the offer to resubmit was extended but the rejection was still tangible. I know the feeling as I have felt that slap many times.

On day two the file sent to me was a manuscript for novel. The publisher wanted my thoughts on whether they should make an offer. So I read nearly 30 chapters of a romance novel. My initial feeling was that it is only the first full I've done for the publisher so surely I'm merely being tested and will receive instructions as a response to my comments. Now, I am not the typical male reader who has never even touched a romance novel. I have, in fact, read a great quantity of them. Unlike many romance novel readers I also read just about every other genre instead of burying my face in a never ending stream of romance novels.

So I am well read and think I can adapt to the task of reading whatever is submitted to the publisher. I may learn otherwise, but have started out with two rejections. Any mistakes in a manuscript should not show up in a simple spell check. In this case a quick spell check disclosed several incorrectly spelled words. This immediately indicates the work has not been polished. Did I like the story? Yes, but it didn't grab my interest enough to make me want to finish reading it. However, I did read it completely and I noted a number of ways the tension could be increased, methods to add more bite to the conflicts, perhaps even refined resolutions. The resulting response to the publisher passed on to the author: As it is we don't want to publish this story, but if you choose to work it over, and polish it, we would be pleased to take another look at a submission.

So what have I done? I have begun inflicting rejections upon authors who share the same shoes I wear, who wear the same hats I change rapidly. They receive those emailed rejections that I dread to see pop into my incoming folder - only now those notices contain my words.

Since the words are mine and come from a publisher does that mean I am now a published author?


  1. I would not let rejections stop me from writing. I would just keep on writing.

  2. Thank you Melina.

    A person can not be a writer if they let a rejection stop their writing. The same holds true for any endeavor that faces a hurdle. If you let the obstacle stop you then you aren't what you were striving to be...


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