Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rejection Hurts!

Telling those who aren't finalists in the MPH-Alliance Bank Short Story Competition what they already know ... I saved this link up specially.

Rejection affects the human brain in same way as physical pain notes Self Publishing Review [found via Literary Rejections on Display blog - where else?] citing a study by a UCLA-led team of psychologists :
Rejection, a writer’s fate. Whether impecunious and unpublished or Pulitzer-prize winning and flush, the encounter is inescapable. Unless the writer is a “fulltime” masochist (“part-time masochists” are hereby exempted) the meeting is rarely stumbled upon or bumped into. Rather it’s a consequence traceable to the writer’s own exploits. It comes after months of research, followed by years of writing and rewriting. It comes when the pandemic self-doubt that is manifestly rampant in the writer’s head during the writing process, suddenly peters out, shape-shifts, and re-emerges in the form of unrepressed self-esteem. This cryptic and schizophrenic phenomenon occurs in syncopated climax with the writing of the two most mesmeric words in the writer’s lexicon: The End.

And it is in this gluttonous – perchance self-delusional – state that the writer dares to think the work all-out brilliant – surely worthy of representation and publication. So convinced, the intrepid writer takes that fateful flying leap into the duchy of literary agents and publishers – the very locus of the infamous Mr. Rebuffer, and his Gongoresque rejectionists-in-training. The writer includes the compulsory SASE with each manuscript, though certain none will be returned. Then the writer waits. Assuming that the odds of enlisting an agent and getting published are working against the writer, there are two scenarios afoot: Immediate rejection or delayed rejection. Either way, it hurts – literally.
And there are suggestions for accelerating the healing process, which includes the instruction :
Luxuriate in self-pity. (Sad music is an expeditious and freely accessible portico into this seemingly bottomless abyss. Suggestions: ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash or Nine Inch Nails. ‘Concrete Angel’ by Martina McBride. ‘Hallelujah’ by Jeff Buckley. ‘Back to Black’ by Amy Winehouse. ‘The Promise’ by Tracy Chapman. ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ by Sinead O’Connor. ‘In the Real World’ by Roy Orbison. ‘Gloomy Sunday’ by Billie Holiday. ‘Drugs Don’t Work’ by The Verve. ‘Lonely Day’ by Systems of a Down. ‘Creep’ by Radiohead.)
The post concludes :
In the end, though physical and emotional pain may technically register through identical mechanism, “rejection” may, in fact, serve the heroic writer well . . . by strengthening both heart . . . and mind.
(Pic from Literary Rejections blog)


Anonymous said...

LOL! You are so advanced, Sharon. When my story was not chosen, I tell myself that either I have to work on it further or... it's just not the judges' cup of tea. But that doesn't stop me from writing many more stories and exploring other avenues:)

BTW, I think there should be a condition excluding internationally awarded/shortlisted authors from participating in this kind of contests, though the juicy prizes might attract them:)

bibliobibuli said...

there were some very good stories that didn't make it anon. and there's always the fact that one judge might like your story, another not. so please do just dust yourself down and move onto the next challenge.

don't agree about excluding anyone who gets shortlisted etc. - all malaysians what! and if the standard is going to be high because of that, well good!

Anonymous said...

This post could have been written for me! Rejection hurts like hell - I go into a cave and hide away from everyone else, licking my wounds except the demons of self-doubt won't leave and I wonder why I ever thought of myself as a writer in the first place. The self-luxuriating in self-pity is a very important part of the healing for me.

I agree that no one should be excluded from taking part in writing contests. I would want to be weighed in against the best and highest standards of writing.

Congrats to all the winners of the MPH contest. I really, really look forward to reading the winning stories. So MPH - get on with the anthology soon!


Elizabeth said...

I'm kinda glad it's over ;) The thing is, I really don't think that my type of storytelling or story is the judges' cup of tea - it seems like most of the MPH Alliance judges are of the literary fiction persuasion, and stories like mine do not stand a chance.

When Eric Forbes said that some stories were "too Hollywood" my eyebrows shot up. What in the world does he mean?

But I entered the competition to break a psychological barrier and I'm glad I did. And I'm glad that despite what stories they preferred, I stuck to writing my wacky story about a ghost, her sister and a waiter! It was good to stay true to myself ;)

Rejection is sad but my pal and I decided that we'll still continue writing the stories we love to write, and we hope to compile our wacky tales in a book one day. It's the act of writing what you love that's the joy, not just the winning of prizes ;) (Though the prize is nice. The things I could do with 5K!)