Thursday, August 25, 2016

HOPE in the face of rejection

by Susan Gray Foster

Whether we’ve successfully published or we’ve just completed our first manuscript and are tentatively beginning to query, we’ve all been there: In that place where someone has rejected our writing and all the hours, effort, and pieces of our soul poured into it.

Rejection can mean that a manuscript isn’t quite ready yet, that there’s work to be done. Or it can mean that the right person just hasn’t seen it yet. Most of the time, unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure which is the case.

Rejection hurts. It’s hard. We feel angry, sad, frustrated, jealous, foolish, bitter. Devastated.

But here is a truth about writing and about stories and the storytellers who milk their hearts to create them: They are full of hope.

Stories are created from the belief that human lives matter, that our stories matter, that there is meaning in life and we can help decipher and share it in some way, and that we can connect with others—even across hundreds or thousands of miles, or years.

That’s hope.
If you can remember a time in your life (maybe recent, maybe NOW, maybe long ago) when everything was hard, but a story sparked your imagination and made you believe that somewhere out there someone felt what you felt and understood, or that somewhere out there a better life was waiting to unfold for you, then you know what I’m talking about. Stories help us believe that even in the darkest times, the human spirit can triumph, that love can prevail. Stories give us hope.

If you’ve written something, it’s because you believe in that hope and you want to share it. Hold onto that.

Some of us need a moment, or several hours or days or weeks, to wallow, suffer, watch Pride and Prejudice or whatever Netflix show of choice, or to listen to a sad song on replay.

But then, whatever the next step is—whether it’s continuing along the path you’re on, or sending your manuscript to a new critique partner, revising again with some fresh feedback, finding a writers’ group, seeking out a professional editorial service, taking a class, studying a craft book or your favorite novel, setting a project aside for a bit, or writing something completely new—TAKE THAT STEP! Keep learning, growing, pushing, believing.

Emily Dickinson wrote, “Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul –”

Give hope space to unfold its wings and take flight: Write.


  1. Rejection is just a part of the business we all have to accept. Hey, being rejected means you finished something, and that'a an achievement.

    1. So true! I love this quote from literary agent Eric Ruben: "... if you are seeking success but do not want to experience rejection, you are walking east looking for a sunset."