My first big rejection came when I was 16. I had entered Seventeen magazine’s Cover Model Search. I sent away my professional photos and whatever else they asked for, and then I waited. And waited. I honestly don’t know precisely when it hit me that my face was not going to grace the pages of my favorite monthly, that I was not going to be the proud owner of a brand new Pontiac Fiero, that my modeling aspirations were dead in their tracks, but when it did hit, it hit hard. Gut punch hard. I sobbed (I don’t and never have cried much).
But I survived.
Strange that my latest rejection, one that is much more important, one that has bigger implications than a photo shoot and a crappy car, did not elicit tears.
Which is not to say that it wasn’t a gut punch.
The difference is that this time I was ready for it. My stomach muscles were clenched and ready.
I submitted a short story to a literary magazine. It was kind of a whim. I’d written the story quite a while back and thought it would be a good fit for this magazine. Apparently it was not. The rejection came, as predicted. It is part of writing. Everyone gets rejected, over and over. It stings nonetheless. For me, I think it was the terse nature of the rejection rather than the fact of it that rankled. But it is what it is.
And so I am preparing a new story for a different magazine, to be submitted in the spring. I am working through a slow, arduous editing and refining process. Slow and arduous because I need to learn this process. I’ve never been much of an editor of my own work. A tweak here and there, but what you see is usually very close to the way it flew from my fingers.
That works well for nonfiction, but not so much for fiction. In fiction there is mood and nuance and there must be something gripping about it. That takes a bit of finesse, something I am slowly learning to add. I don’t just want to write something that sells; I want to write something that is good. Really good. So I am taking my time. Rethinking. Amending.
When the time comes, or I just don’t think I can fix it any more, I will put it, along with my heart, out there. And the chances are good that I will be rejected again. But maybe, just maybe I won’t be.
But if I am rejected, I will absorb the blow and stand up again. And keep standing up until I can’t anymore.