Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing


The Road Ahead

by Phyllis Staton Campbell

It is finished, that article, poem or book. With pride you have passed it around for others to comment, and you bask in the praise. Now, you must give publishers a chance to look at it, and add their praise and compliments. Out it goes, and you wait, only a bit nervous. But wait, something is wrong. That road to success has reached a drop off into space, deep dark endless space. You just got ten rejections, and another ten didn’t even show the courtesy of replying at all.

Back up! Do not, I repeat, do not fall in that hole, the one that either screams from the depths, “I’ll never send out another thing. I just can’t take that rejection!” Or just as deep, and just as deadly to a writing career, “That blank, blank, blank SOB doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Well, it’s their loss, and I’m going to find out why they rejected my manuscript. I’ll tell them a thing or two!”

No, I’m not making fun of your feelings of rejection and disappointment when you receive either silence or thanks but no thanks. After sixty years of writing professionally, I can still feel that sinking feeling at the rejection email, or that “but why? I was sure it was right for this market?” I have, however, learned not to take the rejection, and more important, myself, so seriously.

Nobody sells everything they write, trust me. There are many reasons for this, and doubtless there are times when there just isn’t an answer.

The publication or book publisher may have just done something similar. You may not have done your homework, and have submitted your work to a publisher where it would be entirely inappropriate. It could be too long or too short. In short, before you fall in that hole, be sure you’ve read the map, and that your work went in the right direction.

Sure Aunt Edna, and Uncle Henry, and all your friends and fellow BLOG mates think it’s fantastic, and it could be, but there are a few things to keep in mind here. Your relatives, friends, and BLOG mates may be, shall I say, just a bit prejudiced. They care about you, they want to encourage you. Now let me quickly say, that the opinion of others is important, but it is essential to find the way through those opinions, good and bad, to the nugget of truth. I suggest that you thank everybody, and look for someone who will help you look at your work objectively, and it doesn’t hurt to take a long hard look at not only your work, but your list of places to submit it. Yes, writing brothers and sisters, I said list. It’s possible to get an acceptance the first time out, but rare.

Accept rejection. Even if you feel in the very depths of your heart that that editor is crazy, or prejudiced, or whatever, don’t tell him so. Don’t demand that he tell you why he doesn’t think you’re going to win a Pulitzer. He has his reasons for rejecting your manuscript, even if it’s simply that you wrote about your cat, Fluffy, and he prefers Rover. He’s in charge of accepting or rejecting. You will gain nothing by whining or ranting, so act like a professional.

Also, avoid personal comments unless they are pertinent to the piece you’re querying or submitting. If your article is about breeding cats, you might mention that you have been a cat breeder for a given number of years. Don’t say, “I really have to sell this article, book etc. Fluffy is my only companion, and I need the money to take her to the vet.” Again, act like a professional. I’d be willing to bet that that kind of personal comment would turn off an editor, even if he loved your submission. What to do? Stop the whining, take out “poor me” and go to the next item on your list. And, don’t kick poor Fluffy in frustration.

So what about that hole in front of you on your road to writing success? Study your market carefully. Thank those offering glowing praise, and find someone willing and qualified to ferret out any mistakes you may have over looked. Realize that every writer faces the same problems. Look to your good points, you have them, many of them, and detour around that deep hole.

About the Author

Phyllis Staton Campbell, born blind, writes about the world she knows best. She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.

Though born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she now lives not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death. Visit for her books.

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2 thoughts on “The Road Ahead”

  1. Yes, I can so relate. Rejection is part of the process, a possibly painful one, but possibly instructional.

  2. patty says:

    We receive rejection in everything in life. Writing of course is to be no different. But as long as the first reason we write is for the pure joy of writing and we are always realistic in our expectations we shan’t be down in the mouth. We can learn to realize our successes in the smallest of places and we can watch those grow.

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