Friday, December 4, 2009

Rejection Does Not Mean You Suck...

If you’ve ever watched reality television shows like American Idol, those dance shows, Bravo’s Top Chef, or Next Food Network Star, you will have a glimpse of what it is like to be an editor for a magazine or online journal when hard decisions have to be made on who will be the Winner and who will walk away disappointed.

Let’s take American Idol as an example, and I’ll use the example loosely for my purposes. Multiple of thousands of singers apply and those thousands must be culled down to an amount that can be handled by the show’s judges for our viewing pleasure. Don’t you think out of those thousands a few exceptional singers may slip through the cracks? Of course it will happen. But, the judges have, say, their top fifty. From those fifty, they must cull it down again. Good singers are told no.

The judges now have their twenty top picks. Of the thirty that were rejected, there were some really good singers, but, the twenty have that extra something or had a good day compared to a bad day; still, out of the thirty that were told no, there was dang good talent.

The twenty singers sing their singers off. The judges ponder and argue and disagree and listen to them again. But, at last they must again cull the twenty really great singers down by half to ten. That means ten Great Talented singers are sent home, rejected. That means those judges have to tell these talented people they aren’t going through to Hollywood.

Ten are left. The judges can only pick three from these top singers. This is so difficult, the judges try to find any little thing that separates the ten from each other so they can find that Top Three. They study and ponder and argue. Finally, they just have to make a decision. There’s no way around it. These gorgeously talented ten singers have to be cut down to three. Seven singers have to go home, even though they are some of the best of the best. Out of those seven who go home, there may be a few who really should not have, but the decision is made.

Out of multiple-thousands of singers, three singers stand as The Very Best Singers in the Land. The judges had to find a way to pick out Three—that is the rules, that’s how it goes, that’s how it is done.

The hardest thing of all for those judges to do is to send home singers who have Great Talent. The hardest thing of all is for the judges and the people to pick out One from the Three and declare that One the best of the Best. So, two will go home and one will be named The Best.

The singers who go home from that first Top Fifty group of singers will feel as if they are lacking in talent. The two who are not picked as Top Singer in the Land feel a little better, but not much, because they did not win. They begin to doubt their talents. But this is not the Truth. What is true is the judges can only pick One singer as the One. And the process is a difficult one, one that is subjective, pondered over, argued over, angsted over, tossed and turned over. Sending home Great Talent is the worst feeling in the world. Telling Great Talent NO is the worst feeling in the world—and the judges can only hope those Great Talents try again and never give up their dream.

When Simon Cowell tells someone, “You are good.” He means it, even if that person was not ultimately picked, they should take that “you are good” and fly with it over the moon. Because in the end, only One is chosen, and that one has to have the approval of more than one judge. That one somehow made it to the One by sheer luck and talent and timing and et cetera.

The worst thing in the world is sending rejection letters to Great Writers. It is especially difficult for editors who are also writers, because we know the feeling of it. When we send out our first batch of rejections letters, there are going to be writers who receive them who were in that Top Fifty, Top Thirty, Top Ten, Top Three, but, only “one” can be chosen.

For us, out of the many many many stories we receive in our Rose & Thorn inbox for one reading period, we can only pick nine, and in some instances, ten. Good writers, Great writers are going to find rejections in their inboxes. There’s no way around it. We do try to send encouragement to those who make it to the top of the list, but we also know some will slip through the cracks because we are human and we are busy.

Don’t give up in the face of rejection. You do not know how close you may have come to receiving that acceptance, or if one magazine says No, someone else says Yes. Believe this, especially if you receive an encouraging note from editors. That means you were Noticed. That means your work was angsted and pondered and mulled over by that editor. That said, some publications do not send encouragement – that doesn’t mean your story wasn’t considered, it just means that magazine is too busy or it is just their policy not to send anything but form rejections, or it means you slipped through the cracks because editors are extremely busy.

That’s why you do not give up. Ever. If it’s important to you, you will plunge ahead. For perhaps next time will be your turn.

google, cartoon image:


Walker said...

Rejection is a part of life.
The problem with rejection is that its based one usually one person's opinion and that opinion may not represent the view of the many.
In that aspect are we not forced to accept one person view.
Reality shows falter because they are geared to please and attracting an audience.
The editor is supposed to be able to predict what will attract readers.
Unless he's eating magic mushrooms then he is dancing on cow patties.

I'm a movie buff, i have thousands here and seen tens of thousands.
My biggest pet peeve are critics who put down a movie because "They" didn't like it and viewers loose out on a great movie because one individual didn't like it.

What you write carries the feeling you held when you wrote a specific passage.
It could be a smile of a passing stranger or the touch of a loved one.
Maybe while peeling a banana.
The editor doesn't feel that unless you sent them a banana with your manuscript.

So after you finish and someone else aka editor changes it to suit their reading pleasure, is it still your work of art?

So what's the point of this comment.
There isn't one really but I haven't been here in a while so I figured to leave a long winded comment to cover for the one's I haven't left HA HA HA!!!!!!

Have a nice weekend

OH and I am one of those who would like to drop Simon off a bridge while a panel of people he degraded on live TV score the size of the slpash

Jamie said...

That's a all a good reminder for keeping things in perspective. Just yesterday, I helped judge essays for high school domestic violence essay contest. It was terribly hard picking from between the top two. Ultimately, one just spoke to me more. I'm sure other judges will feel differently and have another favorite. Rejection doesn't mean you are bad writer...just wasn't the time for you. It's all about perserverance.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

I learned all about rejection being a "female' songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee! :)

Jessica said...

Wonderful post. Thanks! :-)

peenkfrik said...

Very well said. I should remember all these especially when trying to achieve something we thought isn't feasible.

Rick said...

Wait. I know editors who actually cackle and whoop for glee when they can stab a "No" pen through a manuscript and a writer's heart in one deft, stabbing motion. What will these editors to for fun if someone tells them that writers are taking it in stride?

I know one writer who died of a heart attack the day they got their rejection letter. It was ruled unintentional homicide, or, as it is known in literary circles, murder in the fifth degree.

One editor friend told me, "I just wish I could see them (writers) cry. I send them personal, encouraging notes when their stories suck so that they'll go upbeat and send more stories out to meaner editors who will stomp their hopeful little hearts into pulp." And this from a woman who edits a comedy magazine.

So, maybe writers should take heart that the rejections have nothing to do with the quality of their story- they're really being rejected because all the other editors except you are mean. You of course, are fair and balanced- as anyone who reads this blog and looks at your picture will know instantly.

smiles4u said...

Thanks for the reminder today. I do think that your thoughts on rejection can be put towards many things in life as well. It's easy to think that because someone rejected us then we must be no good. Rejection can help us try harder. Yet it can help us move on to the next thing. Every single one of us will have rejection in various forms. Those that learn to accept it and not let it define them will be further ahead then those that don't. Great post! XX

Diane said...

Good reminder. Not being picked is one person's opinion and should not be taken to heart. Keep on plugging away.

Thanks for visting me at my new blog:

Suldog said...

I know you speak the truth - and, in my business of doing voice-overs, I have had to learn to not get upset over such things - but I do NOT handle rejection well. Never have, probably never will. When I receive a rejection, it just makes me wish to roll up into a little ball and never again do whatever I was rejected about. That includes writing.

I received a very friendly - even encouraging - rejection, a few weeks back, from a magazine. Haven't submitted anything anywhere since. I will, of course, but not until I work up my bravado again.

Susan R. Mills said...

Awesome post! Very encouraging.

Rick said...

And you know I was kidding...

Barry said...

A great reminder Kat. Life is tough and rejection is hard but giving up on your own talent is the worst.

Titus said...

Well said, and a lesson worth remembering.

Janna Qualman said...

All of this is so important to remember. Thank you, Kat!

And I love those kissin' kids!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Thanks for the pep talk and reassurance that even the best of us will be rejected but it shouldn't stop us from try, try, try...again!

Deb Shucka said...

I love the picture of the three kids and its message. Thank you for this reminder, and for your kind heart.

Judith Mercado said...

Goodness, if I were to take personally every literary rejection I ever received, I wouldn't be able to write another sentence. It goes with the territory. Doesn't make it fun, but it certainly is not surprising.

On another subject, I just finished Tender Graces and enjoyed it very much. You really evoked a time and place, but more than that you created memorable characters with compelling challenges. Congratulations.

Doreen said...

life is full of rejections. like you said, never give up!! great words and post!!