On Rejection: From an Aspie Writer

I’m pretty open about having Aspergers. I’m so grateful that agents are asking more and more for #ownvoices writers to submit their work.

Yet, because they’re asking for our writing, it might help if they knew how someone neurodiverse might think about rejections. *Not an expert, and not everyone is out, so if there are aspie/autie agents hi! I’m only speaking for ‘me’.

Now… no one likes rejection. We human beings are social creatures and having someone tell you they don’t want your work hurts all of us. It’s part of the business, though, and anyone who wants to write for publication, especially traditional pub needs to accept that. I do, it’s part of the life of a writer. Hell… some of the most famous writers ever have received the most rejections. (Go here, you’ll see) so the concept of rejection doesn’t bother me, 98% of the rejections I receive don’t phase me. It’s the 2% I’m addressing. Those where someone has specifically requested more of my work after reading a query or a couple of pages.

Rejection. If you want to write for pub vs fanfic (which I love and have written myself) or to write for yourself, get used to it. You’ll feel rejected over self-pub by lack of sales too, so it’s not just for Trad.pub you’re going to run into it. This isn’t even touching on the concept of poor reviews or trolls bitching about what you write. (I get trolled a lot because I’m out about who I am, all of who I am).

Yet, I want to say something on rejection, especially for an aspie. Now, this may not apply to everyone with Aspergers, I only speak from my *own* experience. Victimized in school by bullies, I’m well versed in rejection. I’ve worked professionally in sales, I have a thick skin. I can take it, and I’ll continue to do so. I know the business of publishing as much as any ‘outsider’ ever can.

It can still throw me for a freaking loop, and here’s why.

I write so much into my stories and hell, not many people seem to like me in person, so I don’t expect a whole lot of people to like my writing… except, of course, I hope they do!

I’m aspie, and one way this makes a difference in my life is that I have a driving obsession to know WHY. About everything… why that bird looks the way it does at my feeder, why X, Y, or Z. (and the other 23 letters!)

So, rejections from agents and publishers bother me, like… a lot. The ones on query letters only are the least bothersome for me. Next step, queries with pages… those make me wonder what exactly the person didn’t like about my work. But for both of those I can brush them aside and not worry about it. The ones that are the hardest are those where an agent/publisher has specifically requested more of my work. If they tell me why they eventually said no, it makes such a huge difference to me.

‘Cause if they do…

I can slot it into a pigeonhole of ‘this is why’ it didn’t work there. That information would be invaluable to me (even if I didn’t agree with it, or if I didn’t like it,(and I’ve gotten both) I’d still have that information to use in future endeavors).

Without that little bit of information, it hurts more and niggles more than it probably does to a neurotypical person. (I’m not NT, I don’t know what it feels like to someone who is, I may be completely off base). I do know that in general, autistic individuals have fathomless wells of emotion. Even if it doesn’t look like we’re bothered or feeling something, trust me, we are. Yes, I know how busy agents must be, I know how hard it would be to write a sentence to each rejection. It would be so nice if they could, though, no, I don’t expect it. No, it isn’t going to stop me, but it may throw me for a day or two. I received one recently that almost made me stop writing, that’s how hard it was to receive. That’s my honesty.

I can’t NOT research something, it’s not in me. I can dive down the rabbit-hole so fast and hard in the blink of an eye, then spend hours there (wherever there is). It’s a trait of how Aspergers makes a difference in my life.

So, of course, I researched the industry of publishing before dipping a toe in. I know it’s the rarity to even get a rejection letter much less a reason for the rejection. Still, for me, personally, it’s like a burning itch I can’t scratch. An itch to know (and from history, that itch will never, ever, ever go away). To understand. ‘Cause trust me, I rarely understand other people, (waves from aspie-land) this obsession with how people work and why they do what they do is in part a self-defense mechanism for me.

Rejection sucks, it’s part of this business and I do collect rejections (I’m shooting for wallpaper, because at least then I know I’m trying) yet… if any agents or publishers read this… if at all possible on partials, if it’s something you’ve requested more pages on, please tell the writer WHY it doesn’t work for you, especially if you know they’re neurodiverse “It’s not for me.” Really isn’t enough. I don’t need a repetition of something you’ve already told me, for things important to me my recall is epic. (You should totally play me in geek trivial pursuit!) I do, rather desperately, need a reason why.

In a publishing industry where #ownvoices are being asked to submit their work, agents need to know how it works for us, and I know enough aspies/auties to hazard a guess that rejection probably bothers many of us as much as it does me. I can’t believe it would take more than a minute to give that bit of info to someone who you’ve already spent an hour or more on reading their work. A reason, even if it’s only a list can make such a difference in the emotions of ND people like me. Something like this would help so much. Now… on to the next rejection. 😀

  1. Didn’t resonate
  2. No market
  3. Too long
  4. Whatever reasons