Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rejection vs. Refusal

Annemarie started our blogs this week candidly discussing one of the big challenges that authors face - doing the right thing for our work. I want to continue that theme by discussing another challenge we cannot avoid - when our work is turned down.

I recently submitted my fantasy novel DESTINY'S JEWEL to Ellora's Cave for their birthstone series and on Monday I received a "no, thank you" from my editor, my first from EC. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Worse... in the heart.

I shared my disappointment with my writers group and received great support and understanding. I also received two definitions that have changed the way I look at this part of writing.

According to the dictionary:
REJECTION: 1) the act or process of discarding as useless or
unsatisfactory. 2) to refuse to grant

Now, I know that my manuscript isnt useless. Nor do many of the other descriptions of the word "reject" fit my work. However.. the word refuse is used in the definition.

Look at that definition:
REFUSE: 1) to decline to accept (something offered): to refuse an award.
2) to decline to give; deny (a request, demand, etc.).

That fits what happened much better. My editor declined to accept the manuscript, denied it publication in it's current form with EC. The story was refused. By one editor. Of one story. That is much easier on my heart and muse.

Most writers have heard the story of how many times DUNE was refused (13, I believe), DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL, by Anne Frank (15 times), JONATHON LIVINGSTON SEAGULL (140!!). Knowing those numbers help a little, but for me, reframing the process in my mind was an instant balm.

I offered my editor a manuscript. She refused. That was her choice. How I feel and go forward from here - that's my choice.

And I feel just fine, thank you.

May your choices support your dreams,

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Blogger Tarot By Arwen said...

Marvelous! My thing is definitions. I do exactly what you did here. I break words down so I can "hear" them in different ways. Great blog,Rowan.

May 28, 2008 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger N.J.Walters said...

That's a great way to look at it, Rowan. Rejection is never easy, even if it is a way of life for writers.

Did your editor tell you why it was rejected? I had a book rejected by one of my publishers, rewrote it, taking into accout the criticisms, and resubmitted it. They accepted it this time and it is was published.

Either way, good luck on finding a home for your book. :-)

May 28, 2008 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Amy Ruttan said...

That made me feel better. I had a refusal yesterday. I'm getting better at handling it, but I think I'm going to tack up this post above my monitor.

Thanks for sharing, and I understand. Hugs to you.

May 28, 2008 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Shelley Munro said...

Great blog, Rowan. Sometimes I think that when we're aspiring authors all we think about is making the first sale. We forget that writing is a subjective business and unfortunately, rejections happen after the first sale. I know that I receive rejections now and then and continue to keep working. Some days are great and others not so good. It's part of the business.

I hope you received some helpful feedback. Good luck with finding a home for your story.

May 28, 2008 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Heather Hiestand said...

Big hug, Rowan! I have been there and know how devestating a rejection from your editor can be. I'm sure your story will find a home.

May 28, 2008 at 7:58 PM  
Blogger BrennaLyons said...

I've been saying this for years!

BTW, don't forget how many times the Wizard of Oz, Little Women, and To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street were ALL refused! That number would be between 50 and 100+ times each, as I recall. They are all now classics. Just goes to show that there are a lot of editors who pass on wonderful books, and I KNOW for a fact that DESTINY'S JEWEL is stellar.


May 29, 2008 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Marianne LaCroix said...

I am sorr Rowan for the refusal. Why didn't they take it? Would they let you revise and resubmit? I've had that happen at EC. I wonder if the jewels for that particular month were filled.

You can always sub elsewhere too. Don't get down, someone will see the jewel it is.

May 30, 2008 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger galaxyfaraway said...


I found out about your blog (and in particular this entry on Rejection vs. Refusal) by someone thanking you for writing it at Erotic Romance Workshop.

I just had to check it out, having just received a rejection myself. And you know what? It WAS a refusal. Not a rejection.

Thank you! You are an inspiration.

And you know what else? I am going to be reading your blog on a regular basis! (I see you too are anticipating -grimace- the "School's Out 'PMS'" for 3 months! Yikes!

I am sorry about the "R" (which now firmly stands for Refusal)


June 2, 2008 at 12:02 PM  

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