March 29, 2012

A Positive Rejection

by Vonda Skelton

In order to protect the not-so-innocent, we'll call him John. He was tall, handsome, and athletic – the desire of every eighth grade girl. Oh, if only he would choose me – my life would be perfect!

Well, you know the story. I lined up, alongside three-fourths of the eighth-grade female population, and applied for the role of John's girl. But he said I wasn't a good fit. I wasn't his type.

In other words, I was rejected.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Two years later, I met Gary, the love of my life. We've now been married almost 43 years – and we're still happy about it! But it wasn't until I ran into John twenty years after high school graduation that I realized how blessed I was to have lost that competition.

Let me just say, it was a positive rejection!

Rejections are part of the writing life. We look over the field of options and decide on the magazine or book publisher or website we desire to partner with. We line up alongside hundreds of other writers and apply for the role. And chances are, we don't win the part. They tell us we aren't a good fit. We aren't their type. In other words, we're rejected.

It can be the best thing that happens to us.

Years ago, soon after the publication of my first paid article, I submitted a piece to HomeLife Magazine, a LifeWay publication. It was a good article. I was sure they would choose to partner with me – and then my writing life would be perfect!

But the article was promptly rejected. We weren't a good fit, they said. The article wasn't their type, they said. They did say, however, that they would pass it along to the editor of another LifeWay magazine, Christian Health.

When I received Christian Health's email rejection, I wasn't surprised and wasn't even too disappointed.

After all, I hadn't submitted to them in the first place! But as I read the note, I was surprised at the last paragraph. "Even though this particular article isn't appropriate for our magazine, we do like your writing style. Would you consider writing a 1000-word article on Folic Acid?"

Of course, the answer was yes. So I became a writer for Christian Health.

A few articles later, the editor of Christian Single Magazine, another LifeWay publication, called me at home. "We've been introduced to your writing through the editor at Christian Health. Would you be interested in writing a monthly column for us?"

So I became a writer for Christian Single. Yes, at that time I was a married, 55-ish grandmother of four...and I wrote for Christian Single Magazine.

But here's the punch line: A couple of years later, I received an unsolicited email from the new editor at HomeLife Magazine. Yep – the original magazine of this story. I had never contacted the magazine again after that first rejection, but the new editor said she was aware of my articles and impressed with my work. "Would you consider writing for us?"

Would I??? So after a round-about detour and lots of published articles, I finally became a writer for HomeLife Magazine.

I can't help thinking back to that original rejection. At the time, I was devastated. All I could see was my failure. They didn't want me. But now I see it was a rejection with a positive ending. Instead of writing for one magazine, I ended up writing for three within the same publishing house! And since then I’ve written for a fourth LifeWay magazine, ParentLife.

This type of story plays out time and time again in the writing world. My plan was so small the day I submitted that article to HomeLife. One article. One magazine. One chance. I remember how disappointed I was when I added that rejection to the pile. How much longer would I keep trying?

How much longer will you keep trying? Let’s face it, the writing life is full of rejection. Why would any sane person put themselves through that?

But for most of us, the pathway to publication includes detours through the land of rejection.
And that, my friends, can be a positive.

VondaSkelton is a national speaker, author of four books for women and children, and founder of, a training conference and community for Christian women speakers. Her writer’s blog, The Christian Writer’s Den, garners thousands of monthly visits and includes writing instruction, opportunities, and author interviews. You can connect with Vonda at, Facebook, or Twitter.

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