You worked on your story for some time. Your writing group loved it, and gave you feedback on how to make it better. You revised it and polished it until you felt it was the very best you could write. You finished it.
You sent your story to a magazine. This felt great! Success!
Then, the magazine sent you back a rejection letter.
This happens a lot. If you are brave enough to submit your work, you will receive rejections. It happens to everyone.
But it still hurts. When they pass on our best work, it feels pretty bad. It can even feel personal.
So you’re feeling those feelings. Check. Now what?
The opposite of acceptance isn’t rejection. It’s resistance.
Think of resistance as an energy block. A fold in a garden hose can stop the flow of water, yes — but water is no less powerful because of the blocked hose.
If the publication was generous enough to provide you a little feedback, read it, and then put it away. You probably can’t read any feedback with a clear mind anyway, because of your disappointment. That’s okay for now.
You will never really know why a publication says yes or no. Your story might not be finished yet. It might need another revision. It might be perfect as it is, even though it was sent back. It might just need to be read by a different editor.
If you spend too long trying to figure it out, you will enter a long, twisty hole of confusion and doubt.
Put a cap on the amount of time you allow yourself to ponder the situation. Spend about ten or fifteen minutes wondering why the story wasn’t chosen.
Then, do something that you love. Get yourself back into a flow state as soon as you can.
The flow of your creative energy can be resisted, but you only have to look at Wave Rock and the Grand Canyon to understand that the flow always wins.
Take time to write in your journal. Do a few writing prompts and write randomly, without a project in mind, just to get that rush of feeling back. This will bring the energy back to your work.
Read something beautiful, fascinating, or weird. Allow reading to bring your energy back, too.
Go for a walk outside. Notice how nature always wins. Know that your writing is also a force of nature.
Then, as soon as you’re ready, write something new. Let the water rush, let the wind howl.
You’ve faced resistance before. You’ve got this.
Ps – Submit your stories in multiples, not one at a time. Erosion results are the most dramatic when the water and wind are of strong quality and quantity.
Photo, top: George Bakos, Unsplash