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On Rejection: Abigail Stewart
Abigail joins us to talk about finding your audience, being gritty, and her forthcoming novel
I’m so excited to bring you the next interview in our On Rejection series! Abigail Stewart is a fellow Texan, a published writer, and a truly wonderful person to have in your corner. Her debut novel, The Drowned Woman, is now available for preorder, and she just started a Substack called Learning to Interrupt. Enjoy this interview and share it with your aspiring writer friends!
Tell us about a time you experienced rejection.
Rejection is an inherent part of writing so I have certainly had my share. A manuscript of mine was recently rejected by a small press for not being “mean” or “gritty” enough. At first, I was a little offended. I mean, I’m full of grit! But I realized that ultimately my writing didn’t match what the publication wanted and it would be a bad fit, for me as well.
How did you get over it?
A glass of wine and getting back out there. The same day I received that email I sent my manuscript out to another open reading period. You just have to stay persistent and maintain a belief in your work.
If you could go back and tell yourself anything right before or after that experience, what would you say?
The advice I always give myself is that not everyone is going to click with your writing. Which is hard, especially if you’re a people-pleaser like me. I will often get these beautiful, glowing responses from publications, followed by a ‘but we have to pass.’ And that always breaks my heart a little because you're essentially handing someone a piece of yourself and saying, 'please like this tangible manifestation of my existential fears and all my errant hopes and dreams.' It feels like a rejection of you. But I know someone out there will love it.
Is there anything you took away from that experience? Or anything you learned?
Sometimes rejections are blessings in disguise. My upcoming debut novel was rejected by several presses before landing with my current press who really saw exactly what I was trying to do and has been nothing but enthusiastic. You should always work with people who are enthusiastic about your writing!
What are you working on now?
I just finished the first draft of a new novel and I have a collection of short stories that I am actively querying. While I am not sure where this year will take me creatively, I wrote so much in the last two that it might be nice to lay fallow and just think for a while.
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