A Rainbow in the Dark
If you are going to write you are also going to be rejected. It’s just part and parcel of the process. Sure it’s an unpleasant part of the process but still important.
The thing I’ve noticed among my writing friends is that a lot of people don’t handle rejection, or even stiff critique well, while I always feel like I want to write back to the rejecting editors for more critique.
Lately, I have been getting a lot of what writertracy calls 'The Miss Congeniality' rejections ('We really like this story but it doesn’t really fit with our anthology’). It’s hard to know how to improve with critique like that. I do get frustrated by those MCRs, but I find that some of my friends cry over theirs for weeks. It got me wondering why we handle things so differently.
The only thing I came up with was past experience.
As I mentioned in my interview here last month, I have a learning disability. I’m on the Sequencing Disability side of things, not the Attention Disability side of things. Basically, I can’t spell, my grammar is atrocious and I can’t get numbers in the correct order. In today’s modern world most of my issues can be dealt with by spell check, calculators and my address book, but back in the scholastic world of the 70’s and 80’s, well there wasn’t much they could do for me.
I was mainstreamed from Special Education, into an odd combination of ‘normal’ remedial, average and honors classes in 7th grade. I’ll be honest, it didn’t go all that well. Teachers didn’t know what to do with someone who was different. There was no catering to my disability in the least. I didn’t really expect to be catered to, but I did expect my teachers to protect me.
It didn’t work out that way.
A lot of teachers didn’t protect me from insults hurled at me. A lot of teachers joined in - Lest you think that things like that don’t happen anymore, last year a teacher was suspended for writing the word “loser” on the top of a student’s paper.
My personal favorite insult was the chorus to the Dio song, Rainbow in the Dark:
There's no sign of the morning coming.
There's no sight of the day.
You've been left on your own
like a Rainbow in the Dark.
I did badly in Junior High and High School, I could pour my heart and soul into a project and still fail. Often I would get comments along the lines of the work being very good, but they couldn’t pass me because of spelling or grammar. Sometimes they were nice sometimes they were unpleasant. I’ve never expected to be liked or accepted by teachers, and by extension editors. But the funny thing is, each rejection makes me try harder. No editor has ever been as harsh as the teachers I had in school. I doubt they could be if they tried.
I have never gotten accustomed to success, not like my other writing friends. I doubt those teachers thought they were helping me to be a better writer, but they were. You see, we don’t move forward on our successes, we move forward from our failures. The trick is to take the emotional part of being rejected away. Each writer has to learn that in their own way. Once the emotional baggage of rejection is gone, each rejection moves you forward.
I had to learn that in school. Most writers have to learn that as adults. When I hear Rainbow in the Dark these days I hear this part:
When there's lightning - it always brings me down
‘cause it's free and I see that it's me
who's lost and never found.
Feel the magic - feel it dancing in the air
But it's fear - and you'll hear
it calling you beware
The trick is to Feel the magic and not hear the fear.
Elizabeth Inglee-Richards aka bodgei, writes fiction and fan-fiction (mostly supernatural). You can find some links to her work on her Live Journal account. Aside from LJ, she can also be found on Facebook.
Please welcome Elizabeth Inglee-Richards: Writer, storyteller and puddle winner
A Rainbow in the Dark