Growing a Shell

I’ve been writing for a long time but only began to submit my work for publication a few years ago. I started with short stories and still write them as well as novels and novellas. I like short stories because they are quick and I can have the whole plot in my  head. I also like them because when you get a rejection, chances are, there will be another place to submit the story even if you have to tweak it a bit. It’s also fair to say that the quick turnaround on rejection/acceptance on short pieces has helped me grow a shell (sort of) around myself. Sometimes, I let the rejections bounce offf the shell but other times, the shell feels a bit fragile.

One of the funniest rejections I ever got was the letter from the editor addressed to my character. I laughed and told myself that I didn’t want to be in a magazine that couldn’t even get my name right on the rejection letter. How likely were they to edit properly? Really?  LOL!

The worst rejection I got was when the editor initially sent me an email that she loved the story, but she couldn’t say yes until all the entries were in for the anthology. She eventually came back and said with the other stories chosen, mine wasn’t dark enough and they passed on it. When I sent it in, I figured it was too light based on what I’d seen in their other work but she got my hopes up. It hurt more to get the no after she liked it, but in retrospect, that’s okay because she did like it.  You know?

So, in this crazy up and down world of writing, we have to grow a shell and use it both to deflect and protect.  Good luck with yours if you’re a writer reading this.


About Author

The author of these blog posts is a lawyer by day and fiction writer by night.
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10 Responses to Growing a Shell

  1. Lavada Dee says:

    I’ve found that thankfully shells grow as a natural recourse. Or at least mine did. Rejections now just mean I need to send it back out to the next pub on my list. Not so with the first ones. Though you’re right there are still the ouch factor 10 ones.


  2. danicaavet says:

    The thing to remember about rejection is that it isn’t the end of the world even if it might feel that way. Like you said, someone will want it. Somewhere.


  3. jeff7salter says:

    That’s a great anecdote about the magazine addressing your by your character’s name.
    Obviously, your character made a big impression on them/her/him.
    And I agree, about that anthology editor — it hurts a lot more to be slammed after being given some hope they might want it.
    And, of course, the big thing in publishing is: if they reject your work… it usually feels like they reject YOU. I guess it’s probably the same with artists, performers, etc. And I know in the employment world a rejection feels VERY personal.


  4. Laurie Ryan says:

    I don’t think we’re capable of growing a shell as thick as we need. Sigh. Each rejection has a sting to it and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get one and not be affected.


  5. Micki Gibson says:

    I’m afraid if I don’t get busy and submit some work, my shell is going to wear thin. Does that happen? Maybe I’m just telling myself I have a thick shell since it’s been a while and maybe I forgot how much rejections can sting. Great post, Jillian!


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