Posted by: Jodi | February 25, 2011

Guest Post: Pam Parker “Rejections Can’t Kill You: Fear Something that Can”

Today’s guest post comes from Pam Parker a writer, blogger, and all around interesting woman.  Her blog Finding Meaning With Words is best described with her own tagline: “writing,  life, and the writing life.”    From there you can check out her impressive list of publications and awards.  On to her article!

Rejections Can’t Kill You: Fear something that can

Dear Women Writers, whether you own the title or not,

So, the literary web-buzz is atwittering about women not submitting as much as men, thus the disparity in male/female authorship. True? Who knows, but be sure the literary journal world will be letting us know….. and we are left to wonder, if there is a significant difference in the numbers of female writer submits vs. male, why is that? Could it be we’re a bunch of chickens???

I’ve written before that I used to fear submitting. In fact, here’s what it took to shake me out of that fear:

“But, then life taught me to banish the fear of rejections.

Many of you know I had cancer in 2008.  There’s nothing quite like hearing your doctor say, ‘I’m sorry to have to tell you, you have breast cancer,’ to shake up everything you’ve ever thought about fear.  Cancer is a word that deserves some of the fear that accompanies it.  Rejection is not.  Even though you may think rejections will kill you, they won’t.  They only have whatever power you give them.  Now when I get them, I seize the opportunity to either rework the piece, or, if I still believe it’s publishable but hasn’t yet found a home, I send it off to someone else.”

And, sad to say, I know many female writer friends who stay stuck in that fear and never move on. Are you one of them? Would you please, please think about rejections as necessary steps in the road to publication? They’re NOT personal attacks — they’re NOT a condemnation of your ability or your work — they’re NOT a DEATH SENTENCE!!! GET OVER IT.

Work on a list, if you must — here, I’ll start it for you:

Getting Rejected is Better than…..

***getting a crappy diagnosis (oh, say, cancer)

***not having tried. (true, trite, but true)

***peeling a bandaid off a blister.

***waking up to 20 below windchills outside.

***that repetitive nightmare about not showing up for a class in college and losing your degree.

How about you? What do you think getting rejected is better than????

Hope you’ll get off the Fear Block and onto the Submission Train.

With only good wishes,

The Submit-It Nag

Pam Parker writes and coaches other writers at RedBird RedOak Writing in Milwaukee. Her stories, including excerpts from her novel in progress, have appeared in THE POTOMAC REVIEW, THE MACGUFFIN, THE BINNACLE, GREY SPARROW PRESS, elimae and other print and electronic journals. She blogs about writing and reading at Watch for updates, and a visual representation/cartoon :-), of the Submit-Nag soon.

A big thanks to Pam for sharing her thoughts here at My Literary Quest!  As always, you are welcome to leave questions, comments, and hearty cheers for Pam in the comments.



  1. Thanks, Jodi and Pam. Another good and inspiring Friday feature.

    For someone who is still waiting for someone to say “yes” to something he’s written, it’s reassuring to know that published writers have run into the same wall.

    Of course, I know that, but I need to hear them say it once in a while.

    • Sometimes it’s about the numbers, isn’t it? Submit, submit, submit. Don’t quit. Good luck!

    • At this conference one gal had to submit over 180 times with 50 partials and many fulls before she got an agent and later a contract with Simon and Schuster. Her book comes out in June – Possesion by Elana Johnson.

      • Now that is perseverance! Cool!

  2. Great advice, for writing and life.

    The only sure way to fail is to stop trying.

    • Amen to that.

  3. Terrific advice.
    I used to find all sorts of excuses not to finish a project and I still find myself reverting to old habits and slowing the pace a little toward the end: suddenly finding ‘extremely important’ tasks that prevent me from completing and, hence, from submitting, therefore delaying a possible rejection.
    But I know how my mind works now so I take an opposite tack. I let the housework go, take a couple of days off work and cancel any social engagements. Then I finish and I submit. I have also found that the more rejections you receive, the easier they are to accept. It’s just a piece of paper: pop it in a drawer and submit your work elsewhere.

    • Sounds like you’ve found a good strategy for yourself. I appreciated your comment about reverting to old habits – it happens to all of us. I’m needing to re-examine a couple stories and see if they’re ready to submit and if yes, get them out there. And, yes, I also agree that the rejections sting less the more of them you get — not that there’s not a pang sometimes, but I view them as steps, not roadblocks.

    • I’ve been guilty of that – procrastinating finishing a project because I’m unsure of the next steps or what they will bring. It’s almost like we are subconsciously afraid of success. You’re so right, by identifying that this is what our brain is doing it’s easier to grab that project by the horns and wrestle it into submission.

  4. Thanks for the wise words and encouragement, Pam! I love the idea of the “Rejection is Better than…” list.

    • Thanks Annis – just stopped by your blog – sounds like you have a dream job, helping others find their dreams!

    • I loved the list as well, there are so many things that are worse than someone saying no to your work!


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