I’ve been reading an exquisite series of short stories written by the extraordinary New Zealand writer, Janet Frame and published by Wilkins Farago.
Janet Frame has ‘Twice been shortlisted for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and was Winner of the 2007 Montana Award for poetry in New Zealand’, yet she too has felt crushing rejection. When her story, Gorse is Not People was rejected by Charles Brasch in 1954, she said,
“I found myself sinking into empty despair. What could I do if I couldn’t write?”
More than half a century later, both these wonderful stories have been published in an anthology by Wilkins Farago called Between My Father and the King.
To me, this shows how we should not be put off by rejection – we should never give up hope.
If a publisher has constructive feedback on your manuscript that fits with your vision for the story, then fix it. If they send you a form rejection, it doesn’t mean it’s not publishable – its just not for them.
Janet Frame’s short stories are poignant, beautiful, memorable and authentic. They are heartfelt, compelling stories, personal accounts taken from her own life – but she still suffered crushing rejections.
In her story, ‘Dot’ she talks about how she sent in a poem to ‘Dot’s Page’. Janet’s poem was about a flower dreaming of the love of a golden moon. Dot responded with ‘I like your poem very much, but I wonder if flowers, even poetically ever dream of moons’.
Janet was very hurt and and said, “I knew that flowers did dream of moons. I could not understand why Dot had even raised the question.”
Luckily for the world of literature, Janet did not stop writing after her rejections – and nor should you.
- Remember that it’s your work that is being rejected, not you as a person.
- Remember that publishers and agents are people so they will have their own interests and preferences. You just have to keep looking until you find the publisher who shares your vision as a writer.
- Have a plan. When I send out a manuscript, I always have a plan as to where I will send it next so that if it’s rejected, I have a fall back position – and can still be hopeful that it will be published.
- Do as much research as you can to ensure that the publisher/agent you are sending your work to is the best fit for you and your work.
- Writing is an apprenticeship – it takes years of practice to hone your craft. I have around 60 manuscripts in my filing cabinets that will probably never see the light of the day – they were my practice stories.
- If you have received a rejection letter, it means you have something in common with many great writers like Janet Frame. It means you are working on your craft and sending your work out – so you are taking the next step towards publication.
- Oh, and don’t forget the chocolate – and don’t forget to celebrate any successes, not matter how small. Sending your work out is a massive achievement in itself.
MORE ABOUT JANET’S WORK
Between My Father and the King
This new collection of 28 short stories by Janet Frame spans the length of her career and contains some of the best she wrote. None of these stories has been published in a collection before and more than half, are published in this anthology for the first time.
Janet’s stories of hardship are told with humour and humanity which is what makes them so accessible to the reader.
She wrote with both self-awareness and incredible perceptiveness. The emotion in her stories is sometimes so raw that it’s almost childlike.
Between My Father and the King, the short story that gave the anthology it’s name is probably one of my favourites. it combines history with pathos and humour – and I was drawn into the post World War 1 setting.
MORE ABOUT DEALING WITH REJECTION
You’ll find more tips about how other writers deal with rejection here.
Good luck with your submissions and I hope your rejections turn to acceptances. If you have extra tips about dealing with rejection, please feel free to include them in the comments section of this post.
Happy writing and submitting:)