Bummer – Rejected Again

by Susan Sundwall

Okay, I thought of a few, coarser words to use in the title instead of “bummer” but really, do you need to have those in your head? You’ve probably said them enough already and with force because – well – who the deuce likes rejection? In addition, upon receiving the “u” word (“unfortunately”) from that editor last week, you may have resorted to kicking things like a two-year-old whose snotty little cousin just ate the last tater tot.  One of my favorite rejections was from an editor who stated that, even though they enjoyed reading my story, they were going to “free it up” for another publisher to use. Seriously? I said more than “bummer” for that one.

 Listen, we all kick and curse and shake our fists at the unfair universe. And then we settle into the second stage of rejection grief and feel sorry for ourselves, glare out the window, and boo-hoo-hoo. And if, in the throes, you’ve got your hand across your forehead and a cigarette dangling from your other hand, going all Sylvia Plath on everybody, I want you to do something. Snap out of it. You are in such good company, it’s ridiculous. I mean, think of all the editors who looked at Harry Potter, called it “bloody rubbish,” and gave it a toss. And the author is now a gazillionaire, for crying out loud. In Potter’s defense I will say it took a long time to get it all between two covers, but you know what that’s like, too, don’t you? Your hard-spent hours are right up there with the works of Rowling and Dostoyevsky, right? Kind of?

Then there are those who advise you to go and read about all the famous Jack London and Stephen King types who were rejected sooo many times. This will make you rejoice at your own rejections? I don’t think so. Trouble is, you would never have heard of King, et al, if they hadn’t subsequently found a daring publisher and gone on to become more famous than Julius Caesar. About as rich, too. Sorry, but that advice stinks like old coleslaw decaying out behind the neighborhood deli.

And, in addition to that rejection you got yesterday, along came an email from a writing buddy with whom you have a sort of pasted-on-smile rivalry. She tells you she’s just sold her eighteenth essay to The Onion, a glossy woman’s magazine, her local public broadcasting station – whatever. And it’s killing you. It’s always so much more gratifying to be huddled among the wretched and rejected than it is to be the dynamic duo of essay queen and her lowly minion. It brings out the martyred sigh in you as she’s holding forth. And deep down you know you’re her equal or, about once a year, her superior. 

So, what do you do with that horrible, rancid rejection you just got? First, you go to the mirror and ask yourself if you really, really want to be a writer. Go. Now. Do it. If the answer is “no,” then skedaddle down to your local job bank at ten tomorrow, fill out the forms, prattle on to the guy at the desk, and have an excellent life as an accountant. But, if the answer is “yes,” here’s the plan. Do your cussing and kicking and boo-hooing, then go in with a vengeance and write something with that emotion. Try dark horror or a serial murder mystery. Do it with a full head of steam and a fifth of scotch if you have to, but do it. If the scotch mellows you out enough, you may even get another idea for Guideposts.

That’s my word on rejection. The scotch thing is up to you. For using cool words like bummer, deuce, bloody (really bad word in Britain), and skedaddle instead of various four-letter word bombs, I humbly accept your wide-eyed appreciation. And if you ever become as famous as London, King or Rowling, I’ll accept your homage on that front, too. I deserve that much and maybe a few bucks as an honorarium.

My tirade is over, and now I have to go and look in the mirror – for the fifth time this month. I may need a good talking to. There’s an excellent chance I’ll get more rejections through the inbox any minute now. In spite of them Captain Morgan and I will soldier on. We live in hope, right?


Susan is a freelance writer, cozy mystery author, speaker and veteran blogger. She lives in upstate New York with her long-suffering husband and she welcomes comments on her blog.


William Kenower