On Fear and Rejection

This is what an editor looks like, right?

This is what an editor looks like, right?

Image from Dreamstime


I went to When Words Collide, a local writers and readers conference, this weekend.  I attended last year, and enjoyed it enough to attend again this year.  Of course, we put on a NaNoWriMo panel that went really well (much better than we anticipated), but there were so many other highlights that I couldn’t even begin to share them all with you now.  Maybe in the coming days, as I have time to process all that I have learned, I will be able to summarize some of the key lessons.  Most of the best information was actually shared by Kevin J. Anderson and his lovely wife Rebecca Moesta, and I suspect that I will be telling you a little bit more about those lessons as well.


The theme of this weekend seemed to be taking risks.  First off, I signed up for a blue pencil cafe (a one-on-one with an author or editor to review the first few pages of a manuscript).  Sadly, mine was a little rushed, because another author had to cancel so they tried to shove us all through, but I still got some valuable feedback.  Second, I decided somewhat last minute to attend a Live Action Slush Pile (more on this in a bit).  Finally, my partner was brave enough (and ready enough) to try pitching to a local publisher and was asked to submit a few chapters.  So positive news all around.


What I really wanted to talk about today was confidence.  I’ve blogged before that I’m new to sending my work out for others and a little worried about rejection.  I’ve only submitted one story to date, and that was for a writing competition (I wasn’t even long listed) with no harsh letter or feedback on the other end of it.  So when I submitted my first page to the Live Action Slush Pile on Saturday night, I was nervous.  The point of a Live Action Slush is for editors to listen to a bit of your manuscript and decide whether they liked it or when they would stop reading if they were reading from a slush pile at a publishing house.  My poor first chapter only made it through two paragraphs before three of the four readers stopped.


At first, I was crushed.  I worked hard at that opening paragraph, and I thought it was pretty good.  It didn’t help when the two entries after mine were writers that I know and were read all the way through.  I tried to brush it off, but it was pretty clear to me that it still needed a lot of work.  In what was perhaps a backwards sense of timing, on Sunday I decided to attend a panel about fighting fear and rejection.  While it didn’t reveal much to me that I didn’t already know, at least superficially, it was positive to hear that everyone else had some of the same problems with confidence as I do, especially at first.


I learned that emotions (especially fear) can colour how you receive a response, that I need sounding boards beyond friends and family (maybe my critique group is good enough?), and that it’s okay to be upset about a rejection, like I was the night before.  The most important thing that I picked up, though, was that we are in the business of no.  99 times out of 100, the answer will be no.  And although that’s hard, that’s the nature of writing.


So I’m going to try and look at my submissions a little differently from now on.  From now on, I am a rejections collector.  I’m going to collect as many rejections as I can and get more than anyone else that I know.  And eventually, maybe after the first 99 NOs, I’ll finally get a YES.


How do you handle rejection and disappointment?

Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to On Fear and Rejection

  1. @CR_Writes says:

    I attended a conference! @WWC_2012, to be specific. Here’s some thoughts on a part of what I learned: http://t.co/cx3VHdVu

  2. @MarkHorejsi says:

    I am too busy/lazy to write properly about #whenwordscollide yet, so instead you should read @CR_Writes about it. http://t.co/ufY31Lut

  3. I enjoyed the conference too, and I think it’s great you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone. This is what allows us to grow, so that’s awesome!

    I really struggled with rejection and feeling not good enough. But what I found worked for me was to look at everything as wither things I can control, or things I can’t.

    –I can’t control whether someone likes my MS or not.
    –I can’t control how fast an editor gets back to me on a MS.
    –I can’t control acquisitions and what happens there.


    –I can control my craft. I can learn, apply and grow.
    –I can control my platform and networking. I reach out to others, connect, help if I can and make new friends and make myself attractive to potential publishers.
    –I can move past rejection. I can choose to not let it sour my mood and have power over me. Instead I can see what can be learned from the rejection and move forward.
    –I can keep writing. I can write the next book, and the next, and continually improve my chances of finding the right fit.

    For me, putting things this way really does help keep my feet on the path. As you say, we’re int he business of NO. There is so much we can’t control, so I choose to let go of these things and focus my energy on what I can control. 🙂

    Hope to see you next year at WWC!

    Angela Ackerman

    • Candice says:

      Hi Angela,

      It’s always great to meet new writers, especially local ones! It sometimes feels like there’s a shortage in Calgary, even though I know that’s not true.

      I think that my big problem with rejection is that I get quite personally invested in my work (not always a bad thing!) and it sometimes feels like it’s me that’s being rejected, not the work. I think that’s something that I can learn, though, and some of the things that you mentioned will definitely be helpful. Thank you for your comments – they are much appreciated by someone who’s still starting out (though I’m getting ever closer to that mythical publication)!

  4. On Fear and Rejection http://t.co/ZIikcX0u via @CR_Writes #writing #amwriting #writetip