What’s the Best Way to Handle Rejection?



Photo by Jeffrey Abrahams

MARVIN BELLHandle it?! Don’t handle it! Subsume it. Write a lot, send out a lot, realize that editorial decisions are not personal, understand that editors are in the business of rejecting submissions and only rarely accepting something, and understand, too, that acceptance doesn’t mean what you think it means.

If you write long enough, you will come to know what your work is worth and what it is not worth. Of course, by then the knowing won’t make any difference.

DOUG UNGER — Rejection is as much a part of a writer’s life as snow and cold is to an Eskimo. I think Ted Solotaroff said that first. We have to get used to rejection and learn how to survive in a world that buries us in all kinds of rejection. Work on the story or novel or essay, and keep working on it. When it’s good enough, an editor will accept it and publish it—count on that to happen.

T.C. BOYLE — I kept things circulating. I was not the sort of writer who was discouraged by rejections; I had faith . . . I made a point that when a story was rejected and came back, that day I’d send it out to another magazine. Keep them circulating. I guess that’s one basic principle to being a writer: keep it circulating, don’t get discouraged.