Dealing with Rejection

As a young writer, I have a pretty big collection of rejection letters cluttering my inbox. I’m a very sensitive person, but over the last two years I have developed what I like to call a writer’s shell. It lets the rejections bounce off of the outside, and lets me keep in all of my positive thoughts, ideas and creativity. Before I started regularly submitting work, my creativity levels were directly related to the feedback I received. If it was positive, I would write for days and have endless ideas; but if it was negative, I wouldn’t write anything, for fear of it not being perfect. As you can imagine, that way of thinking was extremely unproductive. I had to get out of it if I was ever going to get something published, so I decided to follow my own advice, and the advice of my amazing tutors and lecturers. Below are a couple of tips that I use to help me deal with rejection.

*Remember that it’s normal – After getting a couple of rejection letters in a row, it’s easy to start doubting your writing ability. You have to remember that rejection is just something that comes with the job. Every single writer has been rejected.

*Don’t take it personally – A lot of the time, your piece just doesn’t suit the other pieces in the issue, or the market at that point in time.

*Do keep improving – In response to the previous tip, it’s equally important to never stop learning and experimenting. If you’re getting multiple rejections, and you just keep sending out the same piece, maybe it just isn’t quite finished. Take advice, make drastic changes, and kill your darlings.

*Honour your rejection letters – Ok, so you don’t have to frame them and hang them on the wall, but I think it’s important to not just disregard your rejection letters. If the editors have taken the time to give you feedback, use it. Keep your version saved, but also make the changes that the editor suggested and see what happens. Even if it’s a generic letter with no feedback at all, keep it and remember what that particular literary journal or publisher does not want.

*Don’t compare your successes to those of others – You are on your own path to becoming a better writer. You have your own style, voice and goals. Try to be happy for fellow writers when they succeed. Don’t look at someone else’s success and think you will never achieve what they have achieved. Comparing is a sure way to kill your creativity.

*Write a blog post about how to deal with rejection – This one is pretty self-explanatory.

Remember that you are emotionally invested in your rejections because making it as a writer is something that is important to you. That means it is worth trying for. I know the feeling. I’ve also found that the closer your piece gets to publication, the scarier the thought of getting rejected is. One of my pieces is currently on a short list, and I feel like I’m going crazy. I don’t know if this feeling changes once you’re an established writer, with pieces in every major publication. For now all we can do it keep doing what we love to do, and just keep submitting.

Best of luck to all of my fellow writers out there!

– Tamara Drazic

 

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Christian Bök at the QUT Literary Salon

“Many artists seek to attain immortality through their art, but few would expect their work to outlast the human race and live on for billions of years. As Canadian poet Christian Bök has realized, it all comes down to the durability of your materials.”—The Guardian

This evening I attended the last QUT Literary Salon of the year, where Christian Bök was set to read from his book, “The Xenotext”. Bök is a Canadian poet who does a lot of experimental work. I’m a big fan of his book, “Eunoia”, where he dedicated each chapter to using only one specific vowel. His latest project is something I had never heard of before – he has encoded a poem into a strand of DNA and then put that DNA into the genome of a living, and unkillable, organism. This organism’s proteins then respond to the poem, and spell out the subsequent lines, creating a never-ending, living, and unkillable poem. This idea absolutely fascinates me, although I’m still a little confused about how it all works while I’m writing this. I feel so privileged to have heard Bök read out the first words that the organism responded with. The “Xenotext Experiment” means so much more to me than a fusion of science and language; it shows that language can live forever.

I’ve always looked at books as time capsules. I have a book in my bookshelf about Leninism, and I love it not because I’m really interested in its content, but because it was published in Russia during the second World War. It has seen so much, and has been passed through the hands of so many. Bök’s “Xenotext” is an extension of the notion of language as a time capsule, as this poem will continue on long after humans have gone, or until, in Bök’s words this evening, “the sun itself explodes”.

Christian Bök was the final reader of the evening, and there were three student readers before him. Each of them had their own specific style, ranging from prose poetry to more traditional, rhythmic verse. I always love to hear the work of other young writers, and be inspired by the uninhibited risks they take. Hopefully next year I’ll be reading some of my own work at the literary salon.

The salons are held every month at the Menagerie, an intimate café/bar in the QUT Creative Industries Precinct. For more information on the salons, and videos of the readings, check out their official blog at: https://qutliterarysalon.wordpress.com/

Thanks so much for reading,

Tamara Drazic

Favourite Book of All Time

I want to start by saying a big thank you for being here. This new blog is dedicated to all things writing-related. I plan to update you on my new projects, literary salons, publications, favourite books and things I learn along my journey to becoming a working writer. There’s a lot I want to say about this topic, but I think telling you about my favourite book is a good place to start. This book, in my opinion, has the most perfect opening ever written.

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. The opening sets up the exact feeling of obsession that runs through the entire novel. It makes you feel ridiculously uncomfortable, and it makes you question your morals. The sentences sound so good together that they almost read like poetry, and each character is extremely complex. If you haven’t read it, please do. You won’t regret it.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my first post on this new blog. I’m really excited about it, and can’t wait to write lots of content over the coming months.

Until next time!

Tamara Drazic