|Photo credit: Daryl Cauchi on Flickr|
But the truth of every contest is this—while there will always be a handful (or a couple handfuls, depending on the size of the contest) of winners, by and large, the majority of entrants will receive rejections. And many will write it off as just that—another rejection. Most will shrug it off and continue writing, and entering contests, and submitting to professionals with their eyes steadfast on the eventual goal of publication.
But unfortunately not everyone can handle the mounting rejections quite so well, and so every once in a while I see a writer throw their hands up and say, “That’s it. I’m done,” and it makes me sad.
It’s never an easy thing to see a dream die, regardless of whether or not the dream is yours or someone else’s. It’s never easy to see someone give up, to watch other writers buckle under the weight of rejection.
Because the truth is, writing is hard. But beyond that, the whole journey of the writer—from first draft of the first novel to final draft of their final (published or not) novel takes such a toll. Every book you write is exhausting, every rejection you receive—whether it’s a form letter or bad review hurts. We’re told not to take those things personally, but let’s face it—it feels personal. It’s not an easy thing to pour your heart and soul into a book, only to be told that it’s not good enough.
It sucks. Rejection sucks.
It makes me sad to see writers give up, because I understand why. It becomes exhausting to hear strangers and friends tell you to keep pushing on and keep writing when professionals keep slapping you with not good enough. The journey of the writer is an emotional rollercoaster—from hopeful maybe this is the one highs to crushing form rejection lows, and quite frankly, it can be really hard to handle.
The thing is, I can’t promise you that you’re going to be published one day—no one can. I can’t promise you that if you self-publish you’re going to sell enough copies to make those bestseller lists—I can’t even promise you that you’ll get decent reviews. What I can do is encourage, but even that isn’t enough sometimes, because the truth is, the decision to keep writing despite the disappointments has to be your own.
Everyone has the right to give up—and if you decide that the road of the writer isn’t for you, then that’s ok. It’s not for everyone, and deciding to take another path doesn’t make you a failure—it just means that the life of the writer wasn’t for you. And it’s ok.
But if you do give up, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Give up because you realize you don’t really enjoy writing. Give up because there are other things you would rather be doing, because you aren’t happy when you write, because you have other dreams that you’d rather be chasing.
But don’t give up because you think yourself a failure (you’re not). Don’t give up because you’ve received twenty, or fifty, or a hundred rejections (so has every other published writer out there). Don’t give up because of bad reviews (even J.K. Rowling has them), or because you don’t think anyone will ever love your writing (someone will), or because despite your best efforts, your writing just isn’t there yet (EVERY writer goes through this stage). Don’t give up because you think you’ll never be published (no one can see the future) or because you’re tired of hearing “not yet” (“not yet” doesn’t mean “you never will”).
Every writer deals with rejection, some more than others. Every writer feels inadequate or entirely discouraged at times. Every writer gets told “no” and feels like publication is a dream that will never come true.
I’m not here to tell you not to give up. Just don’t give up for the wrong reasons.