Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adopting Stories

I received a form rejection today. No big deal, and it won't be my last, but it might be my last for 2009. That makes me grin.

We didn't just talk about rejection at the master's class. We went through an exercise that helped put us, briefly, on the other side of the editor's desk. Once I'd been through that I wanted to stand up and shout louder than ever before, "Don't take it personally!" Seriously.

This has been said many different ways. Here's one way I look at it. Plenty of great stories are rejected not because the editor didn't like them, but because they didn't quite fit, or there wasn't enough space for them, or they didn't fill enough space. Think about that. Editors reject stories that they enjoy all the time. Every day. They even reject stories that they love. If they let it hurt too much to let those stories go they'd never survive as editors.
Lately I've been likening it to going to your local humane society to adopt a kitten. There are lots of really lovely kittens, any number of which would be great to take home. There are some wonderful cats there too, and dogs, but you're not shopping for those. They're there anyway, tempting you with those beautiful big eyes and soft faces. You pass them by and look at the kittens, and there are, out of the hundreds, four that you really, really want. You take the one that you think the rest of the family will like too (as an editor picks what they think their audience will enjoy the most.) And you take it home.

Imagine doing this every month. You'd have to learn to quickly let go of the ones that you can't adopt and focus on the ones you do. And you couldn't spend lots of time trying to comfort or say sorry or goodbye to all those other kittens that you won't adopt. It's not just a matter of time expenditure, but emotional energy.

Makes those personal rejections that much more special, doesn't it?

For those who haven't seen it yet, a fun little video that demonstrates how not to respond to rejection:

I couldn't embed this video because that ability was disabled.

Happy New Year everyone! May you be successful in your endeavors.

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