Guest post: Ichabod’s 10 taste-tastic tips for dealing with writing rejections

Note from Marija:

Today I am delighted to be able to publish a post by my guest blogger, Ichabod “No Glory” Marty Arthurian Muffin, (who describes himself as a US-born English British writer guy who currently lives in the Thames Valley under a rock). Ichabod is perhaps (?) better known to readers as IMA Muffin, the author and occasional illustrator of King Arthur’s Merry Men vs the Crater Dwellers of the 375 Ursula Asteroid, which can be found in all good second hand shops and recycling bins of repute. Many thanks to Ichabod for being here, and it’s over to you!

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Ichabod’s 10 healthy, taste-tastic and nutrient-packed tips for handling writing rejections

So you’ve just had your fantasy manuscript rejected by Hodderscape after months of agonized waiting, or perhaps your middle grade chapter book hasn’t made the Times/Chicken House longlist. Maybe some of your poetry has been rejected out of hand by one of those poncy poetry magazines that nobody reads. Or perhaps, worst of all, your pseudo-literary-comedy novella has been rejected by an independent press run by one of those pretentious literary types, because we all know – don’t we? the commenters say so! – that indie presses take any old crap. So that’ll be making you feel pretty inadequate, right now, won’t it? Like a worthless, useless, lump. I bet you feel like giving up?! But guess what, you’re lucky that you stumbled across this little old blog today because Ichabod (that’s me!) is here to share my top 10 tips for how to deal with writing rejections.

 

  1. This is very important and for various reasons of HEALTH & SAFETY must be carried out the instant you get the rejection. First, grab a pen and some paper (if you’ve just had your manuscript returned by post, why not use that?!) and then scribble all over it with the words: IDIOTS, POO, BUM, BUNCH OF SHITE – whatever takes your fancy! – and then illustrate it with pictures of the publishers/editors sporting boils, sores, runny noses, twirly moustaches, whatever! Go wild! Then cut the paper into strips and make some paper chains out of them. Tie the chains around your wrists – securely! – so that you can’t easily use your hands. It should ensure that you don’t instantly email the publisher with the following:

Dear Editor, or should I say, Dear Idiot,

So you just made the biggest mistake of your life, didn’t you? Because you’re sure gonna be mad as hell when my novel becomes the biggest thing since Harry Potter! Ha! So there! But maybe you won’t notice my success because you’re too busy DISCRIMNATING agasint other authors. In fact, I’m seriously considering taking legal action for your PREJUDIC and the way you have DISCRIMNATED against me.

Way to go loooser……….!!!

[Author’s signature.]

Folks! Just don’t do it. Bitter experience has taught me that this is NOT THE WAY TO GO. Hence the paper chains. And if they’re not doing the job sufficiently, get some really strong string and tie your hands together. Better yet, use rubber bands. (But don’t forget to take them off before your fingers swell into fat blue sausages and drop off. You’ll need those fingers to write your other novels, right?!) Alternatively, Blu Tack your hands to the wall. That should do the trick!

  1. This is another important one! DON’T GO ON FACEBOOK. OR TWITTER. You’ll only see all your friends posting about how their brand new and AMAZING book is out and receiving rave reviews, or how they’ve just signed a new publishing contract and got, like, a £100 000 advance. It’ll just make you feel like the biggest loser in life there is. And you’re not! (At least I don’t think you are!) So don’t do it! And don’t bother ranting about how you’re so utterly despairing because you’ve been rejected for the thousandth time that month. You’ll only get the usual shitty responses. Cue whiny voice: Oh poor you. I’ve been rejected a thousand and one times. So there. I’m better than you. Or the equally groan-worthy: Every writer goes through this. It’s all just a part of the process. Enough already! Cut the drivel and unfriend them. And if you’re STILL having problems staying away from your laptop or mobile device (even with the whole tying-your-hands-together thing) then go and play one-man player Frisbee with it in the nearest suburban cul-de-sac. Knock out a couple of dog walkers who never clear up after their squatting, shitting dogs at the same time and you’ll have killed two birds with one stone! Result!
  1. Grab the biggest, clumpiest shoes you can find and stomp around your home shouting ‘Screw you guys, I’m going home!’ a la Eric Cartman. Ignore the fact that you’re home already.
  1. If you’ve got a pet go give ’em a big hug and tell them how much you love them, and how they’re the only ones who truly understand your genius. Just don’t over squeeze them. It could get messy. (N.b. if you don’t have a pet I’ve found that this works equally well with teddy bears.)
  1. Still angry? Go out in your back garden and throw some bricks or garden furniture or trees around whilst yelling ‘Aaaaarrrrrrrgh! By the Power of Greyskull!’ Just be careful you don’t pull a muscle or send a brick hurling through a neighbour’s fence. You could end up in a fight and then get crushed, like a bug.
  1. Once your anger has subsided you may want to have a good ole cry. Curl yourself up into a real small ball while sobbing your heart out and then cover yourself in blankets. Try rolling yourself into the waste paper basket, ’cause sure as hell you’ll be thinking that you deserve to be there. With the rubbish.
  1. Phone a friend you don’t mind losing. Whine on to them about how those publishers are evil bastards who couldn’t spot talent if it stared them in the face. Read them extracts from your manuscript or manuscripts… and explain how much PREJUDIC there is in the publishing world – particularly against white middle class men (just like myself) until they hang up.
  1. Then phone your mum (or partner, if you have one! – lucky you if you do!) and have a good whine to her/him about your rejection (and your idiot of an ex-friend who totally abandoned you when you needed them most). She’ll totally back you up! (Though you may have to explain again about ‘when you’re going to get a proper job’. It’s something all us creative geniuses have to contend with. Sigh.)
  1. Have a J.K. Rowling binge evening. Stock up with all your favourite food and drink and start watching the Harry Potter films right from the beginning. Whilst you cradle your fat, bloated belly, the tears streaming down your face, just remember if J.K. Rowling can do it, SO CAN YOU!
  1. At the end of the day console yourself with the fact that only truly sensitive people get emotional about rejections. Other writers who don’t are obviously emotional inadequates with arses of steel. Your rejections are a testament to the depths of your soul and the silver filigree which lines your guts.
Cartman et al

In lieu of a photo of Ichabod, instead he sent me a photo of some of the things and people that inspire him…

So that’s it folkz! Ichabod’s 10 surefire ways to help you deal with rejections and keep on writing. Let me know if you find my list useful. (Only don’t tell me when you get published, I couldn’t take the pain.)

Best of luck!!!

Ichabod!

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Note from Marija:

I sincerely apologise to my readers for Ichabod’s swearing, insensitivity and bad spelling. I think he’s probably been reading too much Francis Plug. And if you’d like an actually useful (and eminently more sensible) guide to handling rejections, please visit this blog post, by the highly-regarded poet Angela Topping.

 

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Begone all spooks!

There are always times of increase and times of decrease. I guess they roughly follow the shape of a sine wave: up and down, up and down, up and down. It’s particularly in those ‘down times’ that we look to the future, that we hope that, “This time next year we’ll be millionaires.” (I’m a big fan of Only Fools and Horses, can you tell?!)

I’ve really loved being at home with both children this half-term. We’ve done lots of fun things, enjoyed being outside amidst glorious autumn colour and spent time with loving grandmothers.

Yet in the background my email inbox has been pinging away with writing rejections. I don’t often write about my writing – any free time, just for me, is crammed full of creativity, and I find that writing about that creativity seems to be a hindrance to me doing more creative things. So I admit, I’m not great at letting people know what I’m up to.

But on the writing front it has been busy! I have pretty much finished editing my first novel, I’ve written a few short stories, several pieces of flash fiction and many poems. And I’ve actually been sending them out (which, I find, to be the greatest faff of all!). I’ve been pretty organized about my submissions recently and kept a note of what I’ve been sending out. I can see that since July I’ve made 21 submissions. I do feel a great sense of achievement for just getting those things out there.

After years of sending work out, I’m pretty philosophical about rejections. I try to see it as a pleasant bonus to be published; the real treasure is in the craft of writing, when my Muse takes flight and I find myself transported to another world.

But… being a highly sensitive person, I still find that a part of me takes rejections personally, and so I cannot help but find that they lower my mood. I really do understand the odds. It’s tough finding just the right magazine/publisher/online site for that piece of writing; and then of course I know that there must be several hundred (or perhaps several thousand) other writers submitting their work alongside mine too. And each one of us hopes for the ‘yes’ that gives us a sense that what we are doing is worthwhile, and even, perhaps, wins us a little bit of much-needed money.

Rejections are absolutely manageable, but when they’re accompanied by a chest full of cough and cold, huge amounts of work to do for my other job as founder of a small press, and continued financial uncertainty in our family finances it somehow all feels like too much. It feels as though the ‘down time’ is here to stick around for a while.

Tonight as I go trick-or-treating with the kids I hope that our own Jack-o’-lantern will serve to ward off some of the spookiness of rejections; I especially want it to banish those tricksy thoughts which come unbidden alongside a rejection: What’s the point of all this effort? Maybe you’re just not cut out to be a writer. 

And if the Jack-o’-lantern can actually do anything about the actual rejections too, that’ll be a real bonus! [I’ll keep you posted about that… :-)]

 

Grinning Jack-o-lantern 2014 low res scaled

Sharing this (one year belatedly!) with the wonderful Chrissie and Maddy of #WhatI’mWriting fame. 🙂

Muddled Manuscript