Rejection Recovery, Thanks to Karen Craigo


I’ve stolen (with permission) this graphic from the blog of a writer/Facebook friend of mine, Karen Craigo. Do yourself a favor and sign up for delivery of her entries to you, directly. They’re frequently ruminations on the writer’s life and they’re always good.

And sometimes they’re particularly timely. On May 23, Karen wrote this post about rejection: What Rejection Means: Go Write Something Better. Pretty soon I’ll be taking a two-week hiatus so I’m writing this post two weeks in advance. By the time you read it, I should have a pretty good idea if my novel manuscript has found an editor and publisher, at least in the first go-around of our submissions. Right now, we’re half-way in, or out, depending on your point of view. If you’ve been here you know that none of these was a yes, or I wouldn’t be writing this.

In the May 23rd blog post, Karen says she’s gotten a few “It’s not you, it’s me” rejections lately and she takes issue with that:

When my work is rejected, It’s-Not-You-It’s-Me doesn’t apply. Of course it’s me. And honestly, it’s OK that it’s me instead of an editor. The knowledge that it is me, writing work editors can live without, motivates me to do better. 

I’ve been wallowing a bit lately, sad for myself and my agent, who has worked with me tirelessly (and pay-less-ly) for–Good God, let’s just say it’s more than five years. As of this writing, it’s not over yet–it only takes one, right? But the idea looms that maybe all of our first pass choices will pass.

We all, at times, comfort ourselves with the “It’s not me it’s them” mantra. But the truth is more like Karen writes, fabulously, here:

Were I a better writer, my essay would hit the (virtual) submission pile, and when it rose to the top of an editor’s queue, she would read it with breathless attention. She would then rip her clothes and begin crying and keening, holding her laptop tightly against her body. The rest of the staff would come running. “What is it, Louise?” they’d ask, all concern, and at her wordlessness—her complete inability to articulate the beauty she had just witnessed—they would wrest the computer from her hands and read the essay together.

At that point, I’m pretty sure the entire staff would run out of its basement or attic or academic office and start dancing in a circle, crying and strewing flowers and making love. Crowds would form, and everyone would join in, not knowing the source of the beauty, but recognizing it as essential and pure.

Yes. Exactly.



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