On Writing and Rejection

Some people dream of being a published author. They eat, sleep, and breath it. They die a million deaths every time a rejection crosses their paths. Me? Not so much. Oh sure, I’m dissapointed, but then I think I would pass out from shock the moment someone said “Yes.” Low self esteem? Maybe, after all its a little hard to believe that your writing can hold its own among published greats. High dose of reality? Probably. Afraid that if I admit that if I think (or heaven forbid say aloud) my writing is decent, or even (looks around nervously and then continues in a hushed whisper) good I sound conceited and full of myself? Most definitely.

I love to write. I always have, but honestly, I never thought I could actually write a book (let alone nearly 3). Not, that is, until I found out about National Novel Writing Month where you attempt a fifty thousand word book in a month. I had been wanting to try for a long time, I had ideas bouncing about my head for years of what I would do and how I would do it. So I put away my poems, and my never quite finished short stories and began to write. I was rather amazed at how quickly it came together and I loved watching the story be born. When the month was over and I had completed my first ever novel I printed it, took a picture of it, and hid it. I was terrified of how terrible it would be, and editing it was just plain overwhelming. So, I ignored it and continued to write little piddly things to share for writing group while I studied books, blogs, and articles on how to write better.

Then Christine moved into our town and joined my writing group. We decided to start critiquing more and I timidly brought out my manuscript from hiding. It was rough, it needed a lot of work, but I quickly discovered editing wasn’t quite so overwhelming and chapter by chapter it began to really take shape. I also learned I wasn’t awful like I had feared. She started talking publishing and I simply stared at her in awe. Me? Attempt to publish? Ahhh… go on. How could I possibly write as well as all those names on all those books on my bookshelves?

I mulled over the thoughts for a while. If I was going to write, I may as well try to publish something. Why not? Well, why not indeed. Since then I have completed a second novel, and am mostly through a third. I’m still not published and my stack of rejections is growing happily taller, but I also recently had my first full manuscript request.

So, what do I do to make it through the rejections as they pile up in my email and on my desk? Well, frankly, I don’t expect them to say yes. Oh, I hope someone will, someday, but I don’t expect it. I also remind myself that it isn’t personal and if an agent doesn’t think my book is a good fit, then I am glad they passed on it – I wouldn’t want a half-hearted agent after all. Then there is the matter that all these agents have specific things they are looking for, lists to fill, or maybe they picked up a similar book recently. So, I try not to take the rejections personally and plod ahead anyway. It’s not easy. I’ll admit to crying occasionally, or sighing at my email and wondering, “why am I putting myself through this?” and I have to remind myself, “because someday someone might just say yes.” Then, on those days when I am feeling particularly sorry for myself I sternly scold, “you can’t complain until you hit triple digits.”

There is always a thrill when I see an email sitting in my writing account and I think “Maybe today is the day,” and there is always a little thud when I see that it isn’t. But, I would rather soar and thud then never soar at all, and that is why I continue to send in those queries, and who knows, maybe someday I’ll be on a bookshelf in somebody’s home.


Filed under Writing

14 responses to “On Writing and Rejection

  1. Lua

    What an inspirational post…:) I absolutely understand what you mean when you say you ask yourself, “why am I putting myself through this?” The publishing process, from finding the right agent to holding your book in your hands is simply brutal and feels like an eternal struggle but when it happens I do believe it’s going to be worth all that trouble. Even dreaming about it is enough to go through it all…:)
    Rejections are hard but it only takes one “yes” to change it all and you are definitely right when you say we do this – “because someday someone might just say yes.”
    I wish all the best to you with your writing.

  2. Hey Julia! I am so happy to tell you that you WON my ‘One World, One Heart’ giveaway! You were #70!
    Please send me your full name and address at
    diadsie@comcast.net and I will put this in the mail for you.

  3. moniquel319

    I sure hope you get published. I would love to have your books on my shelves for my kids! I love your stories.

  4. Well said and I’m so glad you shared.

  5. You WILL be published someday. When I first joined ANWA, a member said she had six novels and still hadn’t found a publisher. I thought to myself, “After six novels not published, you never will be.” Years later I found myself with six unpublished novels, and laughed at my once naive novice thoughts. In 2009, Haunts Haven (novel #4) was picked up and published by Walnut Springs Press, and Chocolate Roses is coming out this spring. Dreams do come true. It only takes a while and being prepared for the day when opportunity finally knocks.

  6. You are awesome! Honestly, I’d be shocked if you don’t get picked up soon. Cedar Fort is having a Christmas Story Contest. If you’ve got a great Christmas story, email and I’ll send you the details. Love you.

  7. Wendy

    Go, Julia! Thanks for a great perspective; I sent out my first three agent queries last week and am a little on edge. Keep your chin up!

  8. What a great post! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one out there with more than one novel and no contract. Keep hope and determination close. You’ll make it some day!

  9. Hang in there. It will happen. When things seem the worst is when you really need to keep plugging. Good luck!

  10. Enjoyed your blog and your great keep going attitude

  11. Perpetual Chocoholic

    Each time is a learning process. You’re gathering knowledge and valuable experience in working through that process and you’ll be ready with a level head when one of your manuscripts is accepted.

  12. Your upside-down cow alone made my day! Great, candid post. We’ve all felt the sting of rejection, but your attitude will make you successful! Keep fighting the good fight!

  13. I totally believe you’re going to get published, it’s just a matter of time. I love your attitude! Just keep going. Everything you write will give you more experience and improve your skills and one of these days it will really happen!

  14. Karen

    I look forward to the day when I can display your book(s) on my bookshelf. 🙂

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