I understand and accept rejection of my writing. It still sucks, but doesn’t sting as much as it used to when I first started submitting things. One day, years ago, I got two rejection letters in one day. Then a writer told me she once got four rejections in one day. So I gained perspective.
But, I love, love, love when rejection comes with feedback. I can work with feedback. It wasn’t until I got specific feedback on my first novel from two different agents within about a week of one another that I knew it was time to give up the ghost. They pointed out things I’d worried were weak. They were right and I knew it. The weak spots, I could suddenly see, were beginning writer mistakes. The question was to keep revising the novel or move onto a new project. Hence, book number two.
But earlier this week I got a rejection for a short story I submitted to a literary journal back in mid-November. Yes, this is how long these things take. I submitted the same story to about five different journals around that time and have only heard back from one. I only apply to places that allow simultaneous submissions. I love these places and really see no other way for a writer with a handful of stories in her arsenal to break through.
Anyway, here is the feedback I received on my story: “Skilled pacing and an interesting flow. The story's beginning is most emotionally powerful; its climax fails to keep the same tension and feels a bit forced.”
They are right. I had this nearly exact feedback from a seasoned writer that the ending of the story didn’t match the beginning. I couldn’t see that until it was pointed out to me. I reworked the ending, but apparently not well enough.
But, did you hear those words skilled and powerful? I didn’t even notice them the first fourteen times I read the rejection letter. But there they are, so I should appreciate them. Still, I know the ending needs work.
And guess what? I’m totally struggling with the ending of my novel right now. I kind of know how to wrap it up, but I’m just having a hard time getting the words out. Scenes are too long, people talk too much, a character turns from mean to nice with very little justification. So I recognize that I need to work better at wrapping up my books (remember that 550-page first draft?). But I have no idea how to go about this just yet. At least I’ve learned that I have work to do in this area. Frankly, I have work to do in lots of areas, but it’s easier to get started on that work when you know where the holes are.