Yes and No

"Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any oath, but let your "Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation." James 5:12 NRSV

In the submitting process, I think of yes as acceptance and no as rejection. Perhaps this verse doesn't exactly apply to that.

I was thinking about the idea that each time I submit a piece, all I need is a yes. Yet that's not true. I need rejections as much as I need my one fabulous acceptance. The yes I received is the perfect example. In the last post, I detailed how the initial rejection turned into the acceptance. If the editor had said "Yes" the first time around, the piece would not have been as tight and strong as it became after I made edits from his suggestions. His "No" not only gave me incentive to try again, but it made me realize that the story needed more editing. I find it a blessing that he told me specifics, because he was right.

I have now received rejections on both Livinity and Sprinter from the agent I met at the FWA Conference. Once she rejected Livinity, I had a feeling she would reject Sprinter as well. She did have nice things to say about both. She likes my writing. For Sprinter, she did not believe she could sell it at this time, though she felt it was a good story. I appreciate her candor very much. And maybe that's why the verse came to mind. Editors, agents and publishers have little luxury or time to say anything but the truth to submitting writers: yes or no.

A member of my critique group, Lee, has read the prologue of Livinity, and she had quite a few things to say. I'm very glad that Lee has no problem letting her yes be yes and no be no. She actually apologized later for being so blunt, and I said, "No! I need blunt! How else will it get better?" She had some great suggestions for how I can improve my fantasy novel, and it may be sometime before I'm ready to submit it again.

Sprinter, on the other hand, is going out again soon. I've got a list of places to send it, both agents and publishers, and I'm ready for some more rejections. Maybe I'll even get one of those amazing emails that tells me why they are rejecting it. Because then I can try to make it better.

No is not a terrible word. Rejection is not a terrible thing. At least, I'll try to keep telling myself that.


  1. But I agree with you. The "no" is not a terrible thing. I write myself and I always improve my work after rejections. The things I have sent to publishers are poems, so I have not received any critique. But I try to put myself into the chair of the editor and to find a reason for the rejection. And I see I steadily improve doing that.

    What would be very wrong was if the editor did not say "yes - yes" or "no - no" but "yes - if" or "no - but if". Then the editor would make himself a god. This is a very important principle. In law theory this is the Principle of Legacy. The ruler should say "yes - yes" or "no - no" to us. Anything more would be evil. And so we live peacefully in societies governed by law, and not in societies where we had to satisfy the affections of the ruler.

    Good luck with your work. I am waiting for response on a novel myself. It is exciting.


  2. Thanks for the comment, Anders! Good luck on the novel.

  3. Thank you! :-) It is about a young woman, picturing wisdom, and a young man, picturing truth, finding each other in a mental hospital. She is the patient and he is the psychiatrist. Both are prostitutes, in different ways, motivated by the word of The Lord saying that the greatest one is he who serves everyone. I discuss this. And I reveal the nature of the relationship between man and woman as it by God is meant to be. It is a philosophical novel. I had a great time writing it.


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