Thoughts on Rejection 2006

Lit by Susan Bono, 02/24/07

You are always being told writers need thick skins. Write your truth, send it out, and if an editor sends it back, shrug off your disappointment and try again. On the other hand, good writing comes from your willingness to be vulnerable, to peel back the layers of resistance, to offer up your heart, pulsing and defenseless, on a silver platter.

How simple it would be if we could unzip our skins, hang them like suits of flexible armor on a hook next to our desks, always handy to slip back on when it's time to face an audience. Some writers get pretty good at making those transitions, but it takes lots of practice, self-confidence and determination. Writing is not for sissies.

Editing and publishing are not for sissies, either. Just as I believe no writer enjoys rejection, I can't imagine an editor who delights in dishing out dismissals. In my case, it's getting harder every year to be the naysayer. The cost of business is going up and my own stores of time and energy are diminishing, but the dirty work of turning away worthy work increases. This part of my job requires me to don my own kind of armor. As I write this, I'm suited up, but the protection feels stifling. It's still far too easy to see myself in your place on the other side of the editor's desk, especially with those of you whose work I have come to know and respect.

But I see that no matter which side of the desk we find ourselves on, we are practicing our craft. We are developing the strength, flexibility and ambition we need to keep fighting the good fight. Practice may never make perfect in our line of work, but it does make us better writers. See if you can take your rejections to the bank as an investment in an evermore rewarding and challenging writing life. A rejection here, an acceptance there. That's the way it goes with writers and editors.

Susan Bono is currently preparing her thoughts on acceptance and rejection for the 13th annual Tiny Lights personal essay competition.

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