Posted by: selenafulton | May 30, 2011

The Three R’s…

And we’re not talkin’ Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic either…

Rejection, Revise, and Resubmit

Life is full of rejections, but for a writer a rejection is especially rough. Writers spend many hours, months and sometimes even years working on their manuscript.They pour their heart and soul into the words. So a rejection is personal.

I met an editor at a conference once. As we gathered around a table in an informal setting before the conference, she made the statement. “I don’t understand…why do writers tremble when they have appointments with me? Most of them are much older than me.”

She seemed like a nice young girl, maybe a bit older than my own daughter, and she truly seemed flummoxed by this phenomena.

Now, sometimes my mouth gets ahead of my brain and speaks. I looked her in the eye and said, “Because you have the ability to tell them that their baby is ugly.”

The jovial mood of the table shushed, my fellow writers were probably thinking they couldn’t believe I said this to an editor. Probably not my best move, since I had an appointment with her the next day. But it’s true.

Many writers are introverts by nature. Some of us write quickly, some painfully slow. Many of us have that ever-loving Pesky Day Job. Try fitting in a few moments of writing time with a husband, kids, a social life, and well…it’s a wonder some of us have time to write more than a grocery list.

But write we do, because we must. It is like trying to stop the pressing of schoolchildren when recess comes, or trying to dam to floodwaters with a sieve, we cannot. We write while we wait for our kids at soccer practice, steal away for a few moments while the kid is in the tub, or get up at four a.m. for an hour of blissful quiet before the family wakes up and we go to work.

So a rejection hits us hard, and many times we suffer in silence. If you are blessed with wonderful critique partners as I am, you can share with them. Or like me, I have a wonderful on-line group of writers and we support each other when we’re down, or cheer when someone gets good news.

I got a rejection last week and my dear hubby took me for pizza to cheer me up.

But rejection is not the end of the world. It doesn’t necessarily mean your manuscript is bad, it just might not be what they’re looking for. Or maybe it needs more polishing. Everyone recognizes the sparkle of a polished diamond, but would you recognize a diamond in the rough? I’m not sure I would.

So what to do when you get a rejection? Some of us eat chocolate. Others take a walk. I shut down the computer and mull over any feedback I received. Then it’s time to REVISE.

Revision is almost harder than the first draft, or the second, or the third… Revision, like remodeling, isn’t as fun as the creation, where you are learning about your charactors, where they live, what makes them tick. It’s not enough to make sure your character’s eyes don’t go from blue to brown, or that he suddenly has grown five inches. (Which happens when you write in increments, because let’s face it, nobody can write a book in one sitting.)

No, revision is anything from tweaking your sentence structure to discovering a scene drags down your manuscript. As is sometimes with remodeling, you may need to strip your story down to the wood studs and start over. In this instance, the revision letter can sometimes give you invaluable feedback. Read it. Internalize it. And if you must, hit that delete key even though it might hurt. Do it!

And the most important thing, RESUBMIT. It doesn’t matter if your manuscript is the next Gone With the Wind, or Grapes of Wrath, or whatever…if your baby never steps foot off your hard drive, never gets out from under the bed, it’s a sure thing it will never get to the bookstore shelves you so covet. Nobody will believe you finished your novel, or care.

Someone once told me if I didn’t make mistakes, it meant I wasn’t working. The same can be said of rejections. If you never submit, you’ll never be rejected…or published.

I know what I’ll do…what will you do?


  1. I know what I’m doing! I’m leaving a comment! 🙂

  2. Great post, Selena!

  3. Success!!

    Love the post. It’s so true. A writer can never give up!

  4. Very nice post and Great Blog! I love it.
    Question though…
    What was the editor’s response to your baby-killer comment?
    Just curious. And did it help your pitch the next day?

  5. Beth, Your blog said so much, encouraged me. June

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