I confess that I have NO terrible pile of rejection letters sitting in a drawer somewhere. I have one. Yes, one. The story line for a book I submitted was too similar to a book already released by my publisher. Sigh.
So did it sting? Oh, yeah. It did. Kind of ticked off, I hunted down that other book and read it. And then for a good long while I felt ill at how many similarities there were. Too many. So on top of the rejection, the book was tainted for me. And it still sits in my computer waiting for revisions and possibly some day I'll submit it somewhere else.
Rejection doesn't only come at the hands of a publisher or editor, though. Like most things rejection starts at home. It really doesn't matter how many readers we have across the globe (and I'm always stunned when I hear from a reader who lives overseas), our family is the group we want to be proud of our work. And mine is not.
Oh, its not because I'm not a good writer--although they really have no way of knowing that because they don't read my books. The genre I write offends them. And that, my friends, does sting. A cousin read my mainstream book and commented that it was a good story but had far too much sex in it for her taste. To my knowledge, she's the only member of my family outside of two of my children who has read one of my books.
Rejection can blindside you if you aren't prepared. I carefully considered all the consequences of writing the kind of books that I write and I knew ahead of time what those consequences would be. That's why I use a pen name. But I admit that the rejection still stings at times. Those are the times that I pull out the letters from readers and friends--those letters that tell me how much they enjoyed my books. That's the antidote for rejection. Fan letters are a powerful vindication for our work. Mail 'em in!