(This is a snake. He will find you and visit you if you steal his picture.)

Rejection sucks.

Say it out loud.

Feel better?

Didn’t think so.

The thing about rejection is that it happens.

Seriously. That’s just how the world works. You can write the best thing ever, but if you send it to the wrong place, they will reject it. Whether it’s because it’s unsolicited or because it doesn’t fit the themes they like, it will be rejected. Fact of life.

If a magazine says they like horror stories, and you send them a gooey romance, then they will reject it. It doesn’t matter if it’s the greatest love story of all time. It will be rejected. Get your crap in order and send it to someone who wants it.

A lot of rejection comes from stuff like that. If they have had too many stories like yours–even if yours is the best–then it will be turned down. Same goes if they already have enough for the next edition. It’s just bad luck sometimes.

But sometimes it’s because you haven’t spent enough time editing or because they had something different in mind.

However, rejection letters don’t normally tell you what’s wrong with your work. It’s a sheet or slip that they send to everyone rejected. It doesn’t matter if your work is a million times better than the next person they rejected–you get the same letter.

It sucks even thinking about it.

Rejection sucks in general. Whether you’re being broken up with or finding out that you’re not invited to something or not making it into your school’s writing magazine, rejection sucks. Rejection is awful in every form.

But it usually comes for a reason. Maybe it’s to make you make your work better. It’s up to you to figure out the reason.

And it’s up to you to figure out how to respond to it. You can take it badly and give up. Or you can work harder and figure out what you need to do to improve.

I heard a story of a writer who used her rejection letters for wallpaper. When she’d get another one, she’d say, “Oh, good, I was hoping to fill in that gap over there.”

That’s one of the best attitudes toward rejection I’ve ever heard of. Do you want people to tell stories of how well you handle things? Or how badly?

It’s up to you to decide how you’ll react to rejection. Because rejection is inevitable.

Your assignment: Find a rejection letter you’ve received. Read it. If you remember what was rejected, look at it and figure out what needs to be fixed. If you don’t have a letter or haven’t had the opportunity to be rejected, then go find something you think would be rejected by a professional. Edit it. Just because rejection is inevitable doesn’t mean you can’t try to prevent it. Don’t go overboard. Above all, make yourself happy.

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