Angle on the Feedback

Thursday 24 April 2014

I have had some pretty nice feedback from editors in the past couple of months about my submitted writing.  One piece The American Scholar very much enjoyed reading.  The Monthly enjoyed it too.  Another was "read with interest" by Creative Nonfiction.  Another piece made the 10-person shortlist in New Philosopher's competition.  The same piece was enjoyed also by The Monthly but wasn't quite the right fit for their mag.

Adorn by Jenny Downing (cc attribution)

Concentrating on any available encouraging feedback is the best way to look at rejections.  They come thick and fast after all, and as my skin is not thick but translucent, some days I go away and curl up in a sad, deflated ball.  And yet even when I'm feeling like that, a part of me knows that in a few days' time I'll get up and get going again.  And you need to when it comes to writing.  You know the stories - Dune was rejected 20 times before being accepted for publication;  Gertrude Stein was rejected for 22 years before her first poem was published. 

Some days - like this morning and Monday morning (two rejections in three days) - I read the email, feel a bit despondent but stay unfurled, and simply reread, reedit and then resend the piece out somewhere else.

Yay.  And if I can handle being rejected, then any writer can.  I guess it just depends on how much you want to write, in the end.  If your desire to write and the tiny little twinge of flame on the inside of the guts that says that you can do this, that you need to keep practising and getting better but you can do this - if that flame is bigger than the pain you feel when people say, "Nah, thanks," then you get back on your bike again, squire.

Now, the really professional writers curl up in a sad, deflated ball but then get up and back on the bike in the same day, rather than let a day or two go past while their despair flares and dampens down the flame. After all, writing can be approached through many pathways.  Even if the despair is flaring and threatening your fire, you can still write.  In fact, writing is a wonderfully creative way to envelop your despair in comfort and help it melt on through.

I still get sucked under by it a little, unfortunately.  But then I always bob up again.  Sometimes it just takes a few days.

Because rejection is part of the business and as my friend Jane says in relation to the upsetting elements of interacting with other people (she is wiser than I): "Don't take it personally." This fits even more so when it comes to writing and not being accepted for publication.

And anyway, to have some personalised feedback at all is an encouraging thing.  A rejection that is not a form letter is gold-edged rejection.  Believe it or not, to actually get to that space is an achievement.  Form letters tend to be the initial type of rejection you receive when you first start sending stuff out and so I actually feel that I have come somewhere in recent years, with the amount of personalised rejection emails I've been receiving.  And to know that The Monthly enjoyed reading my writing still fills a certain part of me with magical disbelief.  Even if I won't be reading that particular piece within their pages, it means that maybe one day I will.


  1. You know to take heart and to nurture the seed within.
    It continues to grow, regardless. Because - as for all creatives - it has no choice. Growth, slow or fast, is inevitable.

    You are indeed fortunate to receive "personal" rejections. At least your works were read, considered, and courtesy was bestowed to reply back.
    One day, hopefully very soon, you'll get a very pleasant surprise :)

  2. hello sue! i just got diagnosed with pyroluria. ive seen that you have gone through this and right now i feel that im going psychotic and i have that crazy disconnect from reality and its slowly been getting worse for 3 years now. Im starting treatment soon and was wondering what i can expect on this road to recovery. (btw i also have heavy metal toxicity)

    how far have you come and can i ever expect to feel any better?
    -thank you so much! im in a very bad place right now and would love a response! :)

    1. Hi Pat. I'm so sorry to hear that you are feeling so bad. I really understand how scary it can feel when you're feeling so disconnected :( I really think it is so much to do with metal toxicity - for those of us who for whatever reason are not able to get rid of these things, they truly can make us feel crazy ape bonkers.

      I am feeling much better than I was. I still have my really bad times where I feel like my whole body is shutting down (like after going to the football last weekend for example. So noisy, so stressful, I just felt myself clamping shut. It's such a horrid feeling. Funny, I reminded myself in the morning to take some extra B6 with me to the game, but I forgot).

      Hang in there, truly. It really does get better. Please feel free to email me at for free support :)

  3. Pretty sure I remember reading that Stephen King papered his writing area with rejection slips. :)

    1. Ha, yes :) I was thinking about rejection slips as I was writing this. It's not quite the same receiving rejection emails as receiving rejection slips, is it? But still - I guess you can still print them out if you are wishing to paper your walls with them. I was thinking some kind of papier mache project would be kinda cool ... or a layered textured painting incorporating them somehow :)


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