For an aspiring writer, there is nothing so disheartening as rejection. When the letter or email comes through saying “you aren’t quite what we were looking for, for this issue,” you know that what they mean is that they simply didn’t like it. Or they didn’t think it was good enough. And this fairly soul-destroying mission, of despatching one’s work to publishers and magazines, only to have it rejected, is enough to make a person doubt their ability as a writer, and to wonder why you wasted twelve pence on a stamp in the first place.
This is where there should be a motivational speech, something like “of course it was fantastic, they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about…”. Except this isn’t true. These people have spent their lives in literature. Reading it, editing it, writing it. They might be heartless, but they do know what is good. They do know what they are doing. So instead of blindly burying your head in the sand, you have to take your work, and look through it, research where it might have gone awry, and maybe even rework it, and try again. You shouldn’t let your self-worth become directly proportional to how much an editor enjoyed your work, but simultaneously, you can’t let the essence of your work change. Remember that what you are doing is what you love, but sometimes you have to rethink how you write about these things that you love. But keep writing about them all the same.
The same sort of thing applies when one tries to find work experience. Cover letters, curriculum vitae, and sample pieces leave your hopeful little hand, and instead land on a far less hopeful desk. This desk has probably seen hundreds, if not thousands of letters just like yours and so naturally may be a little weary of them. And then the automated rejection letter pops back into that same hopeful little hand, and you feel a little bit worthless once again. However; we’re writers. We want to do well. And writers in essence, write. So we go back and write another cover letter, and keep posting them until finally there’s an acceptance letter in your triumphant hand, which means the first hard bit is over. You just have to keep irritating these weary editors and agents until they are simply forced to accept you. Someone will, eventually, assuming you are willing to take criticism and use it constructively.
This constant rejection is why the blogger-sphere is so important; we need constant and positive feedback. It’s human nature to want to have people to review our work, look at it, and tell us what is good, what is bad, and keep reading our efforts. The blogging world keeps literary hope alive when the big scary corporate people want to squash us, purely so they have fewer letters to trawl through.
So, in conclusion: I shall keep writing little letters, building my CV, and writing on my blog as often as I can. I shall keep writing, because, like someone once said, “I’m in this for the long haul.” It’s a very tough journey, but it’s extremely rewarding. Keep plugging away. Something will come of it, I’m sure.