“Wanting to be a writer and not wanting to be rejected is like wanting to be a boxer and not wanting to get punched.” – David Barr Kirtley
We’re sorry. It’s tough to get past those first few words of a rejection letter. Sometimes, that’s really all the letter includes. We’re sorry but we can’t use your submission at this time.
I understand the need for brevity and even form letters. Publishers and agents are swamped with submissions. A form letter is simply the easy way to go. The point is made, the deed is done, and the publisher or agent can move on to the next submission in their inbox.
On rare occasions the author is given more information. Maybe there’s an uplifting word about the writer’s style or voice or plot. These kind comments are prefaced with how sorry they are but they can’t use your submission at this time. They are followed with the reasons why. Maybe the style isn’t quite the right fit. Or maybe they just published another work similar in theme to yours. Whatever the reason, the good comments are meant to ease the author into the rejection, make it less jarring.
I can appreciate each style of rejection, but I do appreciate those that have taken the extra care to elaborate on the whys. Of course, whichever method is employed the result is the same. You’ve been rejected. Technically, your work has been rejected, but it doesn’t feel like that. Writing is a personal business. And no matter which way it comes, rejection hurts.
But we have a choice with each rejection. We can let it paralyze us in our writing, or we can learn from it and use it to improve our craft. This may be easier when we receive more than a form letter, but even then, it can be done. We can step back and look objectively at what we submitted. Is there something missing that we can develop? Did our manuscript need to spend more time with an editor before being submitted? Maybe it has nothing to do with the writing. Did we take the time to match up our work with the right publisher or agent? Are we lacking the platform they’re looking for that somehow makes us less of a gamble to publish?
Embracing the hard stuff is never easy, but it’s often the way to growth. It’s true in writing, and it’s true in our Christian lives. According to Romans 12:3, believers have all been given a certain measure of faith. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to accept God’s plan of salvation. “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) Faith is also listed as one of the gifts of the Spirit. Other verses tell us that faith can grow. And we all want more faith, right?
Growing up in church, I’ve heard people express the desire for God to grow their faith. It’s an admirable desire, but I think that often they don’t understand what their asking. How does faith grow? Through having to be used. Why does it have to be used? Because something we don’t understand, don’t like, or can’t accomplish comes our way. 1 Peter 1 discusses how trials make our faith stronger. Romans 5:3-4 states, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.” Hope and faith go hand in hand. Time and again scripture references trials to bring us more in line with who God would have us be.
Our nature is to fight against trials. We try to distance ourselves from hurt, disappointment, and failure. But that’s not the way to growing our faith. Peter had to look fear in the face and step out of the boat having faith that Jesus would allow him to walk on water. Sure, Peter looked away and started to sink. But what did he do? He cried out to Jesus. He returned his focus to the one who could save him, and Jesus did just that. “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) Peter didn’t quite make it to the big leagues of faith that day, but he took the first step. He saw Jesus allowing him to do the impossible. And when he got distracted and started to let the trial interfere with his faith, Peter got to see Jesus step in and save him.
What a great experience for Peter to cling to in the future. Later when God would tell Peter to do something, don’t you think Peter thought back to that day? Don’t you think he remembered how he did the impossible and even when he failed Jesus was right there to lift him up? His faith grew that day. And that faith would strengthen him for what was to come. Peter chose to embrace the trial and let God grow his faith the second he stepped out of the safety of the boat and onto the stormy sea. Will you?
By the Book: When trials come do you choose to let them drag you down or do you cry out to God with a heart willing to accept the pain to grow your faith?