Friday, April 1, 2011

Accepting Rejection by Angela Ruth Meuser

Welcome to another Fortifying Friday. This is the day we invite guest authors to share their journeys to publication, as well as offer words of encouragement to other writers. Author Angela Ruth (Meuser) feels that more than anything else, the ability to accept rejection was helpful in her own journey. She’s here today to talk about rejection, and offer motivating words on dealing with it.

Accepting Rejection
by Angela Ruth Meuser

Any writer knows that publication is exciting…and scary. You are putting yourself out there for others to critique (aka judge). No matter how good of a writer you are, not everyone is going to love your work. In fact, I’ve been in writing classes where the objective was to basically sit around and rip apart New York Times best-sellers. So how do you get past the criticism to keep going?

Well, how does any victim keep going? How does one move on past a death or a divorce or a bankruptcy? I suggest that though this may seem like an extreme analogy, the principles are the same. Getting hurtful criticism on your writing makes you a victim. You didn’t ask for it. You don’t deserve it. But it happened anyway. I’ve taken the steps for victim recovery and applied them to my writing.
The first step is denial. “What? Was this email sent to the wrong person? The reader couldn’t have gotten THAT from my story.” Ever been there? I have.

Then you move on to blame. “Well, the reader doesn’t normally read this genre. So he couldn’t possibly get it. Or maybe he’s just a moron. Yeah, that explains it.” Sure. Maybe the critic is a moron. But stopping here won’t make you a better writer.

So you give the I Can’t excuse. “I can’t change that part of my story. It would mess up everything else.” Your hands are tied, right?
You think the best thing to do is wait and hope. “I’ll just keep sending out the manuscript as is. Surely some editor will realize my brilliance.” This trap is so easy to get caught in. But you can escape.

It starts with acceptance. “I got a negative review/rejection. Someone read what I wrote and did not like it.” Simple. And painful.

But acceptance will help you to own it. “There is something I need to change to connect with a larger audience.” Yeah, the reader may be a moron, but the only person who could help the moron better understand your story is you.

This is where you make a plan. “What blind spot can I now see? And what can I do about it?” Often times the change needed is going to be small. Or perhaps looking at your writing through someone else’s eyes will trigger an idea that will completely revamp the whole story. Either way, your craft gets to improve.

Don’t forget to move on. “I made the changes. Now I can tackle a new project.” The old one may not have sold yet, but your writing style has improved and your next manuscript will be better because of what you learned with this one.

Accepting rejection was a hard lesson for me. It involved my very first manuscript being requested then turned down by an editor. (That novel still hasn’t sold, but what I learned from it helped me write one that would.) And it’s a lesson I will continue to learn for the rest of my writing life.

Angela Ruth sold her first story to a national magazine while still in high school. She went on to study journalism at the University of Oregon. Her debut novel Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho is set in Idaho where she now lives with her three amazing kids.
Visit her at and write her so she can learn more about you.