Rejection, defined in the simplest of terms, is a negative response, resulting in denial, or a dismissal. In the writing world, however, a rejection should also be taken as a positive. Yes, you read correctly.
From beginning writers to seasoned professionals, we all have a fear of the infamous Rejection Letter. These letters of denial should not be feared, but on the contrary. They should be celebrated. They are, in essence, a certificate of acceptance from our writing peers.
As humans, from infancy to adulthood, we all strive to be recognized. Acknowledgment of our existence is a very important part of our growth experience. The same is true for writers. A negative response is better than no response at all. The feeling that your creative prose is being read, and responded too, is in itself acceptance. There are, in some instances, editors and publishers who are eager to offer explanations, and quick tips for future reference in their letters, which gives a writer the ability to learn and grow.
One of the first things we are taught as beginning writers is to always be professional and courteous. Sending a note of thanks to an editor or publisher, whether you received a denial or an acceptance, is proper etiquette. It shows maturity as well as respect for the trade. This also leaves the door open for future communication.
While it is true that there are some editors and publishers who choose to use a derogatory tone in their responses, do not fear. This is a very rare occurrence; but unfortunately, it does happen. Most responses you will receive, however, are mostly polite, and are occasionally informative.
Editors and publishers are very busy people, dealing with numerous amounts of submissions on a daily basis, which leads to long hours and tremendous amounts of stress. Therefore it is commonly stated in the submission guidelines that no response means a rejection. That is great. This information allows writers to move on, and pursue other possibilities. Unfortunately, other publishers do not offer this same professional courtesy, which leaves beginners feeling inadequate and wondering what they did or did not do.
Be wary, these unprofessional members of the craft are not implying you are a bad writer. Our inner critics do not need any more encouragement. Take a deep breath, and just know that most of us respect the craft, and all it has to teach and offer.
So, the next time you receive an infamous rejection letter, heed these words: be proud, learn from it, use its words as fuel for the creative fire, and walk away knowing that you have just been acknowledged as a writer.