Confronting the Tornadic Winds of Rejection: How to Keep the Faith

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Photo courtesy of NSSL

Yep. It’s spring. Today it snowed, rained, cleared up and then hailed. I’m waiting for the dark of night so I can claim I’m a postman.

Spring is like that, a clash of two forces: winter and summer. The metaphor reflects the hardships of writing as well: a winter of rejection versus the summer of a sale.

In ancient times, the peak of starvation occurred during early spring before the newly plowed fields could produce and after the winter stores ran out. And this is precisely where new writers find themselves, right smack in the middle of early spring. They have written their pieces, and like seeds, they have planted them. Now, they wait for one to flower. Until then, how do they keep from succumbing to an emotional starvation, laying down their pens, unplugging their computers and quitting? They seek out their fellow writers, and we
all share our meager rations.

The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell explains how to tell the difference between a hero and a fool. “A hero gets knocked down and quietly regroups to write again; a fool gets knocked down and whines about it ever after.”

Bell suggests that writers are like a pyramid. The base is huge and is made up of wannabes. The next level is smaller and is made up of people learning to be writers such as those who take classes or participate in critique circles. Further up is the level of writers with a finished piece. This is the level where real writers start. Higher up still are those with multiple finished works and then finally, perched on the apex, is a Wheel of Fortune. It spins, and quite randomly, some author wins the prize of publication.

Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card

All the way up to published, a writer has control. After that, he or she does not. Addressing directly the new writer Bell adds, “Your job is to keep moving up that pyramid. That’s it. If you write, work your craft and keep submitting; some day, the wheel will land on your number.”

If you are a new writer, or an old hand having run through a harsh winter, hang in there. Just as the tilt of the earth inevitably brings summer, honing your craft and sending out your pieces will eventually bring you to a sale.