Creative chat: How do we deal with rejection and disappointment?

I’d like to provide some clarity on success and failure. I’ve received my first rejection for the year. See, I do receive rejections too!


I think it’s important that writers, creatives and artists view these situations as steps forward and not back. Myself, having studied counselling, community services and now social welfare, working both in the field of AOD on the frontline and for a private counselling organisation there’s a lot to be said about understanding success, failure, rejection and disappointment. A lot of people I talk to whether they are in crisis or in long-term therapy really struggle with failure, rejection and disappointment. Whether we like to hear this or not, rejection, disappointment and failure regularly occur in everyday life. It’s how we cope with it that matters.
In terms of writing and submission rejections, it’s important to view the, “unfortunately, your story has not been successful” as a possible opportunity to improve the work, to put the work down for a time or resubmit. The choice might depend on feedback, your feelings about the work or your understanding of whether that was the best publisher for the work.  Also, it might be worth considering these:
  • Writing is subjective. So, what are the odds of you getting published? One publisher might like it another may not. It’s a highly competitive world and knowing this doesn’t mean you have to give up but it does help if you keep the odds in mind.  There’s always another publisher out there. There’s always another story that can be written.
  • Have more than one story in the pipeline.  This provides you with a distraction to keep working on other creative pieces if one story is rejected. Use a little positive self-talk like this.

  • Most importantly, rejection or failure is not a reflection of who you are, or your writing, or the way you exist or present yourself in the world. Writing is rejected for all types of reasons.

I’ve let many stories die a natural death. And I’m okay with that. One day I might come across an old story and revise and rework it. It might simply be a matter of timing.

 Now, back to my latest encounter with rejection.  I wanted to share my experience with other writers and creatives because much like in support group work in counselling sharing experiences can be very helpful to others.
Today, I’m using this rejection as an example of how feedback can be very helpful in the rejection process. However,  a writer may not always receive feedback like this.
I submitted this short story to a small publishing press that allows readers within their press to read submissions and then return feedback.
Here’s an excerpt from the email.
We have decided not to include this piece in an upcoming volume of our anthology. However, since multiple readers review each submission, you may find the following excerpts from their notes useful or interesting. Please keep in mind that the intent is never to denigrate or dismiss the merits of your work, but to provide you with insight into how this piece affected a specific group of readers.
Here’s what readers said.
• This is an interesting story about time travel. Part of what makes it interesting is that many of the characters in the story have the same names as those of famous literary figures. However, the twist at the end of the story is utterly unexpected. As a result, the twist ending detracts from the compelling plotline.
• I like the tone and voice of this piece–it drew me in right away and gave the narrator credibility. However, my attention wandered during the middle section set in the future and I felt like there could have been more clarity in the sequence of events. I also didn’t feel like I got a very good sense of the narrator in the middle section.
• This was an interesting time travel piece, however, I didn’t quite feel enough urgency in either time period. I’m not sure what Jane is meant to accomplish by going back in time, and I didn’t get a great sense of the world she was trying to escape. I think that this could be a fascinating novel, but as a short story, the world and the characters are too underdeveloped in order for me to get into the story. By expanding this into a novel or novella, there would be more time to develop the characters, to build the world, and to build up the readers’ relationship with Jane and Alexander so that we see them put the hard work in to make the time travel work, rather than skipping over these crucial moments of their development. Great start, but the story needs more space to develop the interesting ideas put forward here.
What to do next?
In this case, I will probably set it aside for a few months and then revisit it. I seriously think I will rework the piece into a novella or novel.  Only time will tell.  But I won’t give up on this one.
I hope this post encourages other writers to keep writing because it is possible to have other stories published if you keep writing. 😆
If you would like to read my latest flash fiction publication above titled, The Returning, just click here.
So until next time… “Be brave and bold in your chosen field of creativity. And never be afraid to explore new techniques

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