Dealing with Rejection

So… I didn’t make the cut at Clarion West. Again.


Now, before everyone jumps to the comments let me say that I’m basically ok. After all, I have the #1 search result on Google for Clarion West Rejection. In fact, I have 3 of the top 10 slots on page 1. Seriously, check it out:



That #1 ranking is last year’s rejection post, Writers Not Going to Clarion West – Rejection. The first is my original post about Clarion West ’08. The last one is a comment thread on LiveJournal.

Well, I have to laugh. What else can I do? πŸ™‚

The Letter

The letter came through last night. It said pretty much the same thing as last year.

Thank you for applying to the Clarion West Writers Workshop for 2009.

We are sorry to let you know that you were not selected for this year’s class. We had a near-record number of applicants, and because the workshop can hold only eighteen students we could not find room for all of the promising writers. We realize this is a disappointment, but hope you will apply to Clarion West again in the future, as your work ranked well with our readers.

We wish you the best with your writing and hope you have a productive summer.

In other words, I was close, but not close enough. I missed it by “that much.” Again.


Like others receiving their notices, I wonder what it was about my work that didn’t click with the readers. Last year, I dealt with this curiosity by sending out my work as submissions. Only to have them rejected… again.


Dealing with Rejection… Again.

You might look at rejection as an opportunity to improve or perhaps to find a more appropriate audience. You could also use it as an opportunity to beat your head against the nearest solid surface. I doubt that’s going to help make your writing better, but the pain should take your mind off the rejection.

Re-rejection is part of the writer’s life. If you’re going to write professionally, you have to learn to get over it and move on. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting. Didn’t you see the ouches above? Of course it stings, but you can’t let it stop you.

In my case, I’m sending my submissions to a few pros who are going to critique them. I’m paying for this service. We’ll see what comes of it, but at the moment it’s back to the keyboard.

Yes, that’s right… Back to the keyboard. I’ve got a lot of writing to do. Only 9 months until submissions open for Clarion West 2010.

[NB: A big thanks to all the folks at Clarion West for running such a class act of a workshop. I mean that seriously. The professionalism and kindness shown by the administrators is nothing short of amazing considering the high-maintenance writers they have to deal with on a daily basis. Hats off to the crew and to the readers who have to wade through all this stuff to find 18 worthy souls each year.]

12 thoughts on “Dealing with Rejection

  1. Well, hell. Rejection is in the air. A thought from someone more articulate than I: β€œI discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, β€œTo hell with you.” Saul Bellow
    Keep on writing!

    uppington´s last blog post..I Am Here – and Headed There

  2. I’m sorry you weren’t selected, Jamie. Maybe next year. It’s good to know that instead of hanging in the sad rejection space, you’re already thinking about how you’ll beat them next year!! πŸ™‚

    Jenny Bean´s last blog post..The End is Here….

  3. Well, as a fellow Clarion West rejectee, I say “Good job!” At least you got the line inviting you to apply again. I got the exact same email, but that last line about submitting good work was missing. Ouch ouch! In order words, roll up those sleeves. And I shall! See you in the next submission pile!

  4. Hi Jamie,

    Thanks for sharing your rejection with us. (((Hugs))) Your attitude is good. I’d bang my head and eat chocolate and then write. πŸ™‚ Today’s Clarion West reject may just be tomorrow’s best selling novelist. Hey, a girl can dream for another writer eh πŸ™‚

    Karen Swim´s last blog post..It’s All About You

  5. Jamie,
    Nice, for a rejection. As much as I’d like to agree that a writer’s only true critic is one’s self, it’s important to get expert feedback. I have trouble seeing flaws in my own writing; the world I see when I write isn’t necessarily what they read. I want to know, even if readers don’t like what they’ve read, so I can improve.

    I am still hopeful about Clarion East or SD, but maybe I’ll get a nicely worded kick-in-the-pants soon.

    Tracie W.´s last blog post..Go, go, gadget optimism!

  6. @Jenny Thanks. I’m excited about next year even if I didn’t quite feel like it today. πŸ™‚

    @CoreKnell Sorry for the double-ouch. πŸ™ Someone told me about the different letters last year when I put my post up. Charge on!

    @Karen I’m all for substituting chocolate for head banging. In fact, I had a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream just a few minutes ago. Mmmm… You can dream for me anytime you want. I know you’ve got connections in high places and I’ll take all the cosmic help I can get. πŸ™‚

    @Tracie We’re on the same page. I think the writer’s worst critic is probably their own inner editor. Something about lawyers and fools for clients comes to mind… I’ve sent off my stories to get some expert feedback. I’ll let everyone know how it turns out.

  7. I can formally join the rejection pile now, as I got my letter today from Clarion (not West). Wah. After a short period of self-pity, I feel motivated to work harder and improve, especially as the letter noted that my work “shows promise” and that I came “very close” to being admitted. I’m thinking of joining an online writing group or workshop, even though I’ve read some folks complaints about the same. Gotta start somewhere!

    Tracie W.´s last blog post..Back to Normal?

  8. I got rejected 3 years before I was finally accepted on the fourth attempt. Good luck for 2010.

  9. @Joel Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll definitely keep showing up! If nothing else, it’s a lot of fun.

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