The Writer's Toolkit: How to Deal with Rejection

All writers must learn to deal with rejection. That’s because more than half of a writer’s mail is condescending notes from ignorant editors informing them that their work does not fit the “needs” of the publisher, and that this outright rejection, while regrettable, is in no way a judgment on the quality of your work or the disturbing nature of your subject matter.

The hell it isn’t.

Every writer who gets a rejection notice—that is, all writers, everywhere—thinks the same thing: Fucking idiots. They obviously have no idea who they’re dealing with here, because they can’t recognize pure genius when it’s staring them in the face! Did they even read it? Obviously not, because the proof is right here in my hands! If they’d read it, they wouldn’t have sent me one of their sorry-sounding form rejection letters—because, as anyone who reads what I wrote can plainly see, its brilliance is self-evident. I shouldn’t have to explain how extraordinarily awesome my work is—they should just know! Philistines! They have no idea how close I am to snapping, or they wouldn’t provoke me like this!

 It’s a universal reaction. And, after the initial shock, many writers go through a kind of cleansing ritual to get themselves back on track. Maybe they get drunk. Or they hit the gym. Or go fishing. Or go for a long drive without telling anyone. It doesn’t really matter what you do. The important thing to remember is that in order to survive as a writer, one has to find healthy, effective ways to deal with constant rejection by incompetent morons.

Here’s my ritual:

First, I dig a small hole in the yard and stand last year’s Christmas tree in it. Then I dress it up as the editor who rejected me. Most editors are short, fat people with small, pointy heads, so an old Christmas tree works great for this. I put a Twins cap on top of the tree to identify said editor as a loser. I cut out a pair of paper googly eyes and stick them on a couple of branches. I use pruning shears to cut out a hole where the editor’s heart should be. Then I grab a flamethrower, laugh, and torch my editor-in-effigy with a few well-aimed blasts of fire.

My flamethrower of choice is the mighty Xmatter X15, because it has four times the throw pressure of a normal flamethrower (4,000 psi, for you flame-tossing geeks), and it comes with three different wand tips, as well as an extra CO2 tank, so you can always be ready when the “need” strikes. Remember: Whenever your work doesn’t meet their needs, you have to meet your own. And trust me, nothing makes you feel better quite like torching a fat, heartless editor with two-thousand degrees of flaming mayhem.

Other writers have their methods of dealing with rejection, I’m sure. But this is how I deal with mine—and why, at Christmas, I buy forty or so trees every year at the local YMCA lot. Sometimes I run out by July and have to improvise, which is why I’m seriously considering buying a Christmas tree farm next year. In the offseason, I’m thinking of starting a retreat for rejected writers, because every writer in the world would be a potential customer.

More info on the Catharsis Christmas Tree Farm will be available soon.