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We Regret To Inform You, A Writer's Discipline
by David Ian
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"We Regret To Inform You..."

Nothing good has ever followed this statement, which means that if a piece of correspondence starts out with it, you know you're in for bad news.

Especially if it is from some place that you've submitted a work for consideration for publication. Got one of these the other day. Rather took me by surprise, actually-- the rejection that is. When I submitted it, I forget The Discipline. I did everything wrong, which then led to the surprising reaction of taking the rejection personally when I read it.

Rule #1 of The Discipline: Submit and Forget.

Submit your piece, put it on your log so you have a record of it, then forget it. Don't check mail for it. Don't try to figure out if it is going to take three or five weeks of the "3-5 Weeks for Reply". Don't think about it, this just builds up anticipation, and anticipation will only heighten the outcome, and the outcome is going to be rejection, (see Rule #2) so all you are doing is setting yourself up for a higher fall. Forget about it, then you will be nicely surprised when the answer finally does come. In the meantime, you should probably be researching another publication to submit the work to, because of Rule #2, which is:

Rule #2 of The Discipline: The Response Will Be Rejection.

The only reason why you are waiting around for the answer in the first place (or NOT waiting for the answer, if you are following Rule #1) is to find out what KIND of rejection you are going to get. A form letter? A detailed letter directly describing all the reasons why it is not accepted? A nice note which praises the piece in partial, but for some critical reason it just can't be used? A threatening letter which says, "Do not darken our door again, or I will notify the authorities"? Anticipating rejection just makes sense, since the lionís share of the responses are going to be rejections, I just might as well accept that as a fact and things can go easily on the emotional side. Besides, it just sets you up for greater enjoyment if one by some strange fluke happens to be an acceptance. And this rejection is not to betaken personally under any circumstances because of Rule #3, which is:

Rule #3 of The Discipline: The Rejection Is No Reflection Upon You.

This is key to remember. There are many and varied reasons why a work is not a match for a publication, the least of which is quality. Mostly it is because it is not exactly what is being sought by the publication, and quite often it was just not what the editor had a hankering for on that particular day. By no means should you resubmit on the off chance that it will reach the editor on a more amiable day, just find another publication to submit it. And if youíve been following Rule #1, youíve already got another publication lined up to submit it to, right? Right.

These are the Three Principal Rules of The Discipline, they are designed so that you can better survive the submission process and emotionally tackle the constant rejection by making it a matter of course. By using The Discipline, you can keep a healthy cynicism about the potential success of your submissions, while keeping a healthy optimism about yourself as a writer. And keeping generally healthy is a very good thing.

Read more articles by David Ian or search for other articles by topic below.

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Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw 13 Jun 2008
This piece was chosen to be highlighted in the Cheering Section of the FW Message Boards. Click here to see yours and the others that were selected this week: General Submissions JEWEL CHEST
Edmond Ng  12 Jun 2008
Sound advice indeed! Yes, there will be times we feel rejected or disappointed, but we should never stop trying. Most of the time it is simply because the work does not a match a publication, so we must stay strong and pesevere, never to give up. If we cannot get it on print, we can always get it online, whether paid or unpaid, we will be able to see it shared to the world most of the time.
Joanne Sher  11 Jun 2008
This is GOOD. I TRY to go by this (LOL though I am still DYING to contact WD to be sure they actually GOT my entry for the short story contest), though it's not always successful. Think I will print this off too. You are a wonderful wealth of information, D_I! Thanks.
LauraLee Shaw 11 Jun 2008
Wonderful advice and written with your usual wit and personality. ;)
Patty Wysong 11 Jun 2008
Love it!! Following this advise will alleviate so much anxiety! (...and it lets me know I was on the right track. LoL) Thanks for passing this on to us!
Joshua Janoski 05 Jun 2008
Very good advice. I'll definitely print this and keep it handy, since I want to start submitting some stuff for publication. Thanks David!


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