Within 48 hours, I have had two pretty heart-stopping rejections and two pretty nifty acceptances? Usually they don't all come within such a brief period, but how do you handle the gut-wrenching angst of it? So far, I have been relying on Ativan and a therapist but my medical care plan is about to say "whoa." Do you ever get used to it? Does self-doubt ever recede?

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For myself, I would prefer to be told what the problem is. There may be a real problem that I'm not aware of and can fix. Most rejections I've had are of the "we just published a similar story" or "not exactly the kind of story we do here" variety. This can be helpful too. It tells me something about the market I'm looking to break into.

Still, I do know of some writers who are absolutely impossible to placate on this issue. Nothing the editor can say will justify the rejection of their baby.

The worst is not to hear from the editor at all. That happens a fair amount of the time.
Actually, even though it can be difficult to hear at times, we definitely still do want to know why a book wasn't accepted. Few working writers have any ego left intact to bruise, and once we grumble a bit and kick the furniture and feel sorry for ourselves, we go back and look at the criticism to see how we can improve the work.
I try to maintain as Zen an outlook on the whole thing as I can. I figure whatever reponse I get, it's not good or bad, it just is.

There's no way to really tell why something was rejected or accepted. I remember a situation a friend of mine had when he was reading submissions for a college lit mag. Ran into an amazing story. Loved it. Thought it was the best thing he'd seen. Bounced it around five different people, including one of his professors. Everyone raved about it. Took it to the editor, who squashed it because he was putting in a story that covered similar themese and he didn't want to get shown up.

Also, I'm not my story. If someone tells me it sucks, or just flat out says no, fine. There's no point in taking it personally. Now if they tell me I suck or I'm an overly pretentious bastard with delusions of being the next Hemingway... well, I can't really argue there. I am a pretentious bastard.

But the point is that unless it's a personal attack I don't see any point in getting upset about it. Nobody deserves to have that much power over me.
the whole business is high highs and crashing lows. i don't know if there's any way to deal with it. i have noticed that when i hit bottom and think i'm standing in the middle of the bleakest day of my life i tend to completely forget about it by the next day. :D
I'm also partial to the Zen school of thought on this. Allow yourself to feel crappy or great for fifteen minutes, then move on. Here's a good little story to read: Maybe.
I got a rejection for a short story yesterday - one of those maddening ones that said what a nice piece of writing it is (although clearly not nice enough...). My first notable experience of them was with my first full length effort. The same story was deemed to be both too commercial and not commercial enough. My favourite knock-back included the words 'I have read this and thoroughly enjoyed it'.

They always upset me for a wee while, I can't seem to help that. If I didn't give a damn, I wouldn't submit anything in the first place. As for the self-doubt, it's like an ocean. When the tide is out, I can happily frolic on the wordy sands, when it's in, the fight is on to keep my head above water.

Congratulations on the acceptances, Patricia. That's brilliant news. As for the other two, they just hit the wrong desks on the wrong day. When you feel ready, dust 'em off and go again.
From the distant perspective of a day later, I see now that three of these four events had baggage attached to them, which made them harder than usual. One rejection was due, in some part, to a clerical error; another the story had been held onto for way too long when it didn't need to be. Even one of the acceptances came from a journal who was supposed to publish the story last fall and didn't.
Just too much to deal with in a short time.
Thanks for the help. Glad to see how others get through it.
Remember Stephen R. Donaldson, whose major award winner LORD FOUL'S BANE got 48 rejections.
I hope you're kidding about the Ativan.

When you're writing novels -- and I only ever wrote short stories when invited to do it for an anthology or a website or something where there was no rejection factor -- the acceptance or rejection doesn't come very often. For me, that meant I never found it any easier to be rejected, and acceptance of a manuscript, or the offering of a contract, was always an occasion to rejoice.

I would also rejoice whenever I received a royalty check, celebrating by buying myself something I really wanted but wouldn't ordinarily buy, its cost somewhat in proportion to the size of the check. However, with my most recent royalty checks (still sitting uncashed) for some audiotapes, which total $8.10, I think I'm going to blow the whole thing later this afternoon. On what, I have no idea yet.


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