Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mouse View, Eagle View: Rejection

"Rejection is just part of the life." I haven't met a writer who hasn't said that, nor have I met one who can accept rejection without a twinge of "hey!"

One strategy that's helped me handle having writing rejected -- which, yes, is inevitable in this line of work -- is to remember to work both the mouse view and the eagle view.

For the past several years, I've tried submitting something every month. Often I submit more than one something. Often I re-send a returned piece (in what I call a "boomerang" submission), but sometimes I make "rules" to force myself to send something new (or newly revised), and sometimes the "rules" include trying a publication I haven't tried before.

Over the years, I've found it helpful to have many pieces "out there" under consideration -- that's the eagle view. I have twelve opportunities, at minimum, in a year to see a piece land in a publication. In years when I make more "rules," I have even more opportunities.

At the mouse view, I do the legwork. I try to match what I send with what that publication wants. And each rejection or acceptance gives me some information.

Sure, the rejections still sting, especially when I really thought I'd found a good match between a piece and a publication.

And because I try to keep both perspectives, each submission carries hope -- but not desperation.

The mouse/eagle view of rejection has many side benefits -- what those in the grant-writing business call "soft outcomes." The act of submitting work actually supports my writing in the long term.
  • * For one thing, I enjoy the flash of satisfaction I receive when I submit something -- submitting is act of faith, in a sense, because I believe in this piece so much that I'm willing to allow it the opportunity to "live" someplace beyond my hard drive. That feels good, so I perceive that I enjoy writing more.
  • * Also, by focusing on submitting, over which I do have control, I blunt the the sting of rejection, which is something I don't control (beyond good research and doing good writing in the first place).
  • * And because I have that goal to submit something every month, I have to keep writing and revising so that I have pieces (or pitches) to send.

So that's how looking from the perspective of both the mouse and the eagle help me handle rejection. Which may be part of the life but isn't anyone's favorite part!