For those who don’t know, I’ve been trying to write stories for almost a year now. And I’ve sent some of them to short fiction markets, and a precious not-quite-handful of them are even going to see the light of day. But I’ve also gotten ten or fifteen rejections. And these are five never-fail, quick-action, 100% guaranteed strategies for coping with rejection:
1. Fetal position
By far my most reliable response involves curling into a small infantile ball and crying for a week or two. To fuel the despair, it’s helpful to periodically reread the rejection letter. If there’s any material there that might be construed as secret criticism, build on it (“Not a good fit?” That’s editor-speak for “I would rather be slowly roasted over the coals of hell than see this published” or maybe “Please dispose of this manuscript before it infects too many minds” or maybe “it’s not a good fit for us.”). The fetal position is great because it removes the possibility of accomplishing anything ever again. It also combines well with methods #2 and #3.
2. Vow to never write again
This is the fetal position with real guts, and the added spice of drama. If one editor one time didn’t want that one story, well, you’re an Artist who understands what the universe is trying to tell you. Raise yourself up from your fetal curl and swear aloud: “By the hammer of Thor, I will never burden the world with my writing again!” If you’ve ever aspired to shake your fist at the sky, now’s the time.
As a bonus, you can comfort yourself in the following decades with the knowledge that you aren’t one of those silly, embarrassing writers who keeps trying.
3. Call your Mom
All these methods should be combined with a healthy dose of Calling your Mom. Can anyone else truly grasp your inherent yet frustrated genius? Can anyone else have the inhuman patience to repeat into the phone: “No, I really liked it. I just thought it was great, dear.” This will somehow make you feel better, even though you know damn well your Mom isn’t an objective beta reader.
4. Take refuge in the certainty of your own brilliance
Warm your frozen heart with the flames of defensive anger (look! the imagery! the secret genius!). Probably your story would have actually been a huge hit and won All the Awards if only some lowly, highly-experienced editor hadn’t tossed it into the rejection pile. Here you could have single-handedly restored the mass appeal of the short story and given speculative fiction the respect of the literary community, but no.
5. Keep writing, except better.
Obviously you should choose this one and everybody says so. But, for the record, you can do all the others first.
Also, it’s super hard. Because you can’t just go on writing like you have been. You have to do it way better, by exponential leaps and bounds, and sweat out every sentence and check and double-check your plots and character arcs for fault lines and it still might not work and you’ll have to do it all over again.
 If you’re just here for book reviews—dude, sorry. This blog is kind of a sprawling, leaky, periodic affair, and this is what I felt like writing so I wrote it. Also, mini reviews: The City and The City was frigging amazing, and Perdido Street Station was less so.
 Never do this.