Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Monday, 16 February 2009

Rejected but not dejected!

On Friday I received two rejections from the same magazine on two short stories that I'd sent out recently. Now, you may think that I'd be feeling just a tad sorry for myself; that I'd be ready to throw in the towel and give up. But I've had rejections before, and I didn't give up then, and I won't give up now.

Rejections happen to most writers. It's nothing to be ashamed of or scared of; and looking on the bright side, at least they read what ever was rejected! It can be off putting when all you get back is a bog standard rejection slip with no indication as to what was wrong and why it was rejected. But you have to remember that editors are very busy people who often don't have the time, or the inclination, to help you. And why should they? It's a business after all.

It's important for writers to remember this important point; publishing is a business, and just as the publishers/editors treat it as a business, so must the writer. Be professional at all times in your dealings with editors. That means taking the rough with the smooth and not letting rejections unerve you, or stop you from writing. Celebrate your successes, however small, and by all means think about your work that has been rejected, but don't dwell on it. If you're lucky enough to have an editor who has commented on your work, and given you advice on how to improve it, then follow that advice - it may be a way in for your work.

When I first receive rejections, I don't set to work on the rejected piece straight away. I might read any advice that comes with it, but then I put it away for a couple of weeks - a month maybe, while I get on with other work. Then I take it out and really think hard about what went wrong and why it wasn't suitable for the particular magazine I sent it in to. I run a check list.

* Was my grammar, spelling, punctuation, layout, and presentation up to scratch and in line with the magazine's current guidelines?

* Have I read the target magazines enough - do I need to go back and read them again, this time dissecting them sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, to get a better idea of the types of stories that are appropriate for that magazine.

* Have I 'told' rather than 'shown'?

* Was the ending appropriate, and did it bring the story to a satisfying end for the reader?

* Was the story length correct and appropriate for the magazine and story itself - does it need to be longer or shorter?

* Was the story line logical and did it flow, or was it confusing, or go off at inappropriate tangents that detract from the original story, or stop the story from progressing.

* Was the original idea strong enough to be carried into a short story? Maybe it would be better as a poem, or, if it's stronger - maybe a novel?

* Is the language appropriate in the story.

* Does the dialogue flow, and move the story forward? Are the words that your characters are speaking appropriate and true to them? Are your character's 'voices' distinct enough from each other?

* Did I tell the story from the right characters's point of view and in the right tense? Could the story be told better from a different character, or in first person rather than the third, present tense rather than past?

* Ask someone who you know will give you an unbiased and honest critique of your work, and listen to that advice - don't become defensive or aggressive!! They are trying to help you, and you have to accept that sometimes we are just too close to our own work to be able to look at it objectively!

These are things to think about whilst you're editing the final draft of your work before sending it out, but it's also appropriate for when you look at your rejected work - however painful it may be.

And remember ...... don't send your work out if you can't take the rejection! It's a tough old world out there, and if you want to be published you have to send your work out, and be prepared for rejection, because the flip side of rejection is acceptance and publication! So the next time you get a rejection are you going to curl up into a ball and cry? NO! You're going to look at your work, get someone else to look at your work, tweak your work and send it out again!

Here's a good thought to end on - Someone recently said to me that if I save all my rejection slips, when I'm famous I can sell them on ebay!


Nicola said...

Hi Julie,

Ever thought about becoming a writing coach? I'm always inspired (and reassured) by your calm words of wisdom, as I'm sure your other 'readers' are too.

Just a thought: would you consider writing something on your blog about your experiences of the OU course you did? I'd love to hear about it, (as I'm half thinking of doing it myself), and I'm sure others would be interested too.

Off now to work on my Challenge for Saturday.

Have a good week,

Nicola xx

The Buddhist Conservative said...

Unless your family owns the magazine, rejection letters are a fact of life. Editors have their own idea of what they want to publish and most receive hundreds of submissions for each placement.

Each time you write and article, the natural inclination is to become better. Giving up is the only sure way to never win. I would love to read some of the rejected articles. From reading your thoughts here, I am reluctant to think they were rejected because they were poorly written.

It's a tough business. Keep being tough.


Julie P said...

Hi, Nicola! No, I've no plans to be a writing coach. That made me chuckle! I just write what I think, and try to use my writing experiences, and what I've found helpful and not so helpful to try and help other writers. I'm certainly no expert. But I will do a blog on the Open University Creative course I did, as I'm planning on doing another one in October, but can't decide which at the moment! I enjoyed doing the course though it did have it's problems. It certainly sorts out those who take their writing seriously from those who just think they want to be a writer but don't want to do the work! See you on Saturday. Good look with the challenge and keep writing.

Julie P said...

Hi,Roger, thanks for commenting. It is incredibly difficult to get published as I'm finding out - but then I think I already knew what I was getting myself into when I started! And I still chose to do it?! How sad is that?! It was two short stories that were rejected, but having looked through them, briefly, I can see why (why couldn't I see it before I sent them out?!) and will be taking them to my writing group on Saturday.I certainly will keep going, and I hope that everyone else will too.

Fee said...

Hi Julie

I will bring Wannabe a Writer with me on Saturday and lend it to you. The introduction and first chapter will cheer you up.

No matter what you hear every professional writer has been rejected at some point or other. Look at Murder Most Famous even journalists can't make it to write a novel.

You do have a talent look at the positive stuff. You have been published twice and earned some money. You also have a lovely pen from our local newspaper.

You will succeed. Be like a spider try and try again.

Best wishes.


Suzanne said...

You always have such a positive way of looking at things. With that kind of attitude you'll go far.