Your Best Work Just Got Rejected. Let’s Cope.

About two months ago, a much younger, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Kristin signed up for this month thinking, “You know, I can help people unpack rejections and give them some positive options on how to deal with them.”

HahaHAHA! That was before I got rejection after rejection after rejection (and so on) in just a week’s time. And between you and me, it was hard. All of the coping mechanisms I had built up and employed up until that point crumbled before my eyes. And that’s when I came up an entirely new set of rules for coping with rejection.

First, let me give you the old, yet very helpful, coping exercises.

  1. If you received any feedback with your rejection, consider it carefully. Does it ring true? If so, then make edits. Does it not ring true? Then continue to submit your story elsewhere.
  2. If you received no feedback with your rejection, read over your story again and consider a few things.
    1. Do you still love this story?
    2. Do you see some ways to make it better?
    3. Was the editor just out of their mind to reject your story?
  3. If you see some ways you can make your story better, whether it be another grammatical pass or making the villain more villain-y, do that.
  4. If you still love you story and think the editor just didn’t see what you see in your story, continue to submit.
  5. Take out your journal, or a specific writing journal that you keep, log the rejection, and also take some time to process your feelings about it. Don’t be afraid to say you were really hoping for the story to be accepted and you are hurt that it wasn’t. Continue to write until you feel that you have processed your feelings or thoughts on the story and the rejection.

Now, let me give you some new coping exercises. These will only work if you’re a feeling human being with real human feelings, and you were really hoping for an agent or a publication to accept your work.

  1. Get a bag of potatoes. Cry hot tears of broken expectations onto those potatoes. Why? Because you know what’s yummy? Cooked potatoes.
  2. Eat those potatoes.
  3. Do not shower. Go to the store. Pick out three bags of chips because today, you don’t have to decide between the kinds you want. Today, you get all three bags of your favorite chips. And those hot tear potatoes really got you hungry for some crunchy potato byproducts.
  4. Visit the candy aisle, then the frozen dessert section. Pick out at least two items.
  5. Carry the items to the check out. When the person scanning your items smiles at you, smile back at them, and relish that there is still some goodness, some kindness in the world.
  6. Go home and share the potato chips with your dog. Look deeply into the dog’s eyes and wonder why everything can’t be as simple as your wonderful, loving, perfect dog.
  7. Eat the ice cream or candy and stare blankly at the Netflix menu. Scroll through every menu. Wonder what the point of it all is.
  8. Turn off the TV and think about why you started writing in the first place. Question if what you’re writing now is important. Wonder if it is how you idealized it to be. You realize it’s not quite on the mark. Your younger self would wonder how you veered slightly to the left. You make resolutions to re-align your writing to your ideals.
  9. Go to bed at 6:00pm, or at the very earliest sign of light fading.
  10. Wake up at 2:00am because you went to bed at 6:00pm. Play Candy Crush on your phone until 4:00am, then fall back asleep.
  11. Wake up at 6:00am. Walk your wonderful, loving, perfect dog.
  12. Take a very long shower. Wash away yesterday, and the remnants of yesterday that are globs of mashed potato in your hair and crunchy pieces of potato chips between your toes (don’t be ashamed, you really went for it yesterday).
  13. Make yourself a cup of your favorite tea or coffee with creamer (the creamer you know you shouldn’t drink because it has so many extra calories but it’s just so good).
  14. Sit down at your desk. Open up your laptop.
  15. Take a deep breath.
  16. Go back to the old, yet very helpful, coping exercises.

About Kristin Luna

Kristin Luna has been making up stories and getting in trouble for them since elementary school. She especially loves young adult literature, fantasy, Nic Cage, literary fiction, magical realism, and wouldn’t even be opposed to reading yeti erotica. She has written book reviews for Urban Fantasy Magazine, writes for this very blog your eyes are glued to at this very moment, and her short stories have appeared on Pseudopod and in anthologies about unicorns and dragons published by WordFire Press. She lives in San Diego with her husband Nic and eats way too much Taco Bell. Learn more about Kristin at her website www.kristinleighluna.com.

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