From Rejection Comes Opportunity

I got some news yesterday. It was devastating. I pondered whether or not to even write about it on my blog. But, anyone who has read this blog has witnessed the research, the frustration, the writing and the presenting of my work on L.M. Montgomery, I thought that you would want to know the end of Part One of my story.

The other thing that I remembered was that part of this blog is supposed to be the journey of a writer. A big part of that journey is rejection – even nice rejection. So, I thought that it was kind of important (if not a bit embarrassing) to tell you what happened. And it is from failure after all that we learn our deepest lessons isn’t it?
The letter that I received yesterday was kind and informative. It explained to me why the paper wouldn’t be appropriate for the collection of essays that the editors are putting together. It told me to actively seek out other journals and publications, and even suggested a few to try. It wanted me to understand that it wasn’t the work itself, but the constraints of this collection of essays that forced them to make some difficult decisions. They encouraged me to send proposals to other Montgomery conferences. 
I won’t lie to you my friends, I burst into big sobbing heaving tears. My head hit the desk in anguish and even now, a day letter, I’m still pretty emotional about it. I know intellectually why this happened. I understand the editorial decisions have to be made. But, it doesn’t make it hurt less. I know, too, that I need thicker skin if I plan to do this writing-life for a living. For, rejection is part of the game. 

I told my partner last night that this was good learning for me. Given all of the work that I’ve done, the hours that I spent and the emotional attachment I had to the work, I wasn’t really prepared for the rejection that I received. Probably because everyone had been so positive about it at the conference. Although there was definitely inner doubt, I thought that it was important to keep a positive attitude. 

“Imagine,” I said, “If this was my novel. The one that I’ve been writing now for two years. The one that I’ll be working on the next two years in Vermont. I better get used to the rejection for those letters will come.”
I think that I’ve written this before in this blog, but my brother tells me that for every acceptance he gets, he gets five rejections. I’ve received a lot of rejection the past few weeks and I guess this one just threw me over the edge a little.

Failure is harder than success in a way because there is a lot of shame attached to it. And, instead of feeding into that shame, I thought that it might be better to “come out” as it were and say publicly that this just didn’t go the way that I had foreseen it.

Yet, I was thinking that this is an opportunity. Not only for me to develop a thicker skin – which is essential. But, also, perhaps to be more open on the blog about what I was studying. Perhaps opening up the dialogue a little bit online. I think it is the kind of thing people would find fun and interesting. Maybe I can make it into a series here on the blog? Cut out the really academically bits and give you the juicy stuff…add some of the videos and photos that wouldn’t have translated well in a paper.  For, the paper itself is about the online space too and wouldn’t it be awesome to discuss it in the sphere in which the idea was born?
So, over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to go back to the various renditions of the paper and pull out bits that I think you will find interesting. I hope that you will comment, debate and ask me questions. Get me thinking about this because I think that this paper is actually the beginning of grandeur idea for research that I want to do in college. So, in a way, you would be helping me.
And, I guess there is no shame in that…


About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
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4 Responses to From Rejection Comes Opportunity

  1. Mimi says:

    Awesome post Mel – and brave too. Don't forget that we ALL experience rejection of some sort ( in writing or otherwise), but that we're not all as brave and honest about it.

  2. Thank you for saying so Mimi. It means a lot…

  3. Keep your chin up. I remember reading about the numerous times that J.K. Rowling sent Harry Potter to publishers – and the countless rejection letters she received. She kept on trucking and you should, too. Your post is inspiring to the many people in your same boat. One day you will look back on this and laugh!

  4. Thanks Shannon. We know that intellectually, but emotionally, I think this takes time. I saw a friend say something about having the "heart of a lion." This I think is wisdom.

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