Thursday 26 June 2008

Try not to staple your heart to your manuscript

Rejection scene from Why Writers Need Agents
There has been a sad slew of rejection news on one of the message boards I subscribe to.

And as usual, the rejectees are staring at the rejection letters, analyzing every little turn of phrase, and asking themselves, what does it mean?

I recently found this 2004 post from a blogger who calls herself Slushkiller ( she's slushpile reader) which makes some very useful notes about rejection herewith (I paraphrase):
1. Editors do not use different sized stationery to rate you on how badly your ms sucked.

2. When an editor says your ms is 'didactic, too wordy, and too lengthy' she isn't trying to hurt your feelings, she is telling you how to fix it.

3. An editor doesn't say nice things lightly.

The Slushkiller post was a response to the website, where writers can post rejection letters and say how they felt about them.

The best advice I've read about rejection letters comes from the Editorial Anonymous blog in a piece titled The Eight Rules of Rejection. I've quoted it before but it's always worth saying some things twice:
Most rejection letters mean nothing. Nothing. (Except that you can cross that publisher/agent off the list.) You need to internalize this fact however you can. Chant it in the bathtub. Write it backwards on your forehead. Listen to a tapeloop of it while you sleep. No matter what the editor/agent says, no matter what words they use, rejection letters mean nothing.
So cheer up. It's not personal. Laugh. Watch that video again. Write for the sake of writing. Everything else is a bonus.

(P.S. The write for the sake of writing quote came from author Julia Golding in the latest British SCBWI newsletter but since she's so far published 12 novels without even breaking into sweat, I couldn't quote her outright for fear of sending some people into a suicidal spin.)

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