Handling Rejection


I heard one of Philip K. Dick's wives reminisce the other day. He had seventeen stories out in the mail. They came downstairs one morning to find the hallway covered with envelopes, all seventeen of the stories rejected.

The story is amusing, because Dick went on to have very real success in the world. I remember visiting an old lady as a teenager who spoke of the young man who lived opposite her. He had built a special box to stand outside his front door, to be filed by his manuscripts as publishers returned them. It seemed sad, like he had become a character in a short story.

I had a rejection from an Sf magazine in America this morning. Not too much of a surprise, since I don't consider myself an SF writer - I suppose I was looking for the genre to adopt me, like middle-class English families might adopt a baby gorilla. I might not belong, but I'm cute and endangered and at a distance.

One response is to study the market and bang rejected pieces out into the world again. It's called turning the other cheek. I guess i'll do it with this piece. Get the second cheek slapped, and it's maybe worth holding back till the pain subsides. Writers could do with thick skins, but sadly vulnerability comes with the territory. It's nice that agents exist to absorb some of the impact.

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