The 5 Stages of Rejection Grief

Rejection.  

All writers go through it. Yet not all writers
recognize there is a real grieving process when we receive those rejections. I
didn’t realize it myself until one really tough rejection that knocked me so
hard it had me reeling through the 5 stages of grief.

It started when my writing mentor told me to scrap my 50,000
word WIP and start over. I was shocked.
Sure, I knew my WIP needed help, but to trash six months of writing. She
had to be mistaken. I slipped quickly into denial. Maybe a better term for that news was “shock and awe” because
I was paralyzed for an entire weekend. I couldn’t think, let alone apply any of
the great teaching my mentor gave me to my current WIP which was technically
dead to me at the moment.
After the anxiety of the weekend wore
off, I went through a mixture of anger,
bargaining,
and depression. I
don’t remember the anger stage being strong, but the depression was
incapacitating at times! I couldn’t write or even read. What was the point! My
story was dead, and I wasn’t about to try and read someone else’s story while I
was grieving.
Then came the bargaining. Maybe, just maybe I could salvage
the WIP. So I tried writing my historical romance in first person. I only got
113 words written before depression set in again, and I realized it was useless.
If I turned my WIP into women’s fiction as my mentor suggested, it would be a
totally different story with a different feel and plot. Which was okay, but
something I didn’t have the energy to do. After all, I was still grieving.
So I started revisiting an old idea, close to my heart that
I’d been afraid to write. First, I reread the seven pages, the only pages I’d
written. My heart stirred. I felt new life coming back into my soul. So I read
it again, and edited just a few lines and added a few more. Could I do this? I wasn’t
sure, but I knew I needed some encouragement so I sent it out to some trustworthy
friends. They confirmed I should be working on the story. And I did, but not
before I allowed myself to grieve the lost of a WIP.
Rejection is not easy, but sooner or later if you’re a
serious writer and put your stuff out there, you will experience rejection. The
key to surviving it without taking down those around you is to recognize that a
writing rejection requires a grieving process and each person needs to feel it
and deal with it in their own time. But also know the only way to get past it
is to sit back down and write. 
No matter how long it takes.

Gina Conroy, a.k.a. “the other Gina,” is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket. She’s the founder of Writer…Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012 with her second novel Digging Up Death recently contracted with Stonehouse Ink.