Tuesday, 6 December 2011

How To Cope With Rejection

A lot of people on the internet tell me that as a writer/journo I should be prepared for rejection. It is possible they do not appreciate the massive drawerful of rejections I already have, from all sorts of exciting places. DC Thomson, The Guardian, The BBC, Historic Scotland, The National Gallery, three independent publishers and a couple of theatre groups, a company called Seafish…

Larger still is the number of newspapers, magazines and other organisations advertising social media/copywriting/coms jobs that have ignored me entirely. The List, The Herald, The Scotsman, Edinburgh University, The Scottish Government, The Lyceum, The National Library of Scotland, several Edinburgh PR companies, the SYP, SCVO and RIAS are just some of the folks who haven’t even seen fit to send a ‘no thanks pal’ over the past couple of years.

All of which is actually fine by me. I’m currently quite happy temping and writing in my spare time. When I was unemployed, and later when I was in a job that regularly made me cry, I spent a lot of time and energy applying for Anything At All. These days, I only apply for jobs that would be Really Genuinely Amazing, on the grounds I currently have it pretty good (till my current contract runs out in March, at any rate).

One such RGA job was Temporary Magazine Journalist at The Beano, for which I was interviewed a couple of weeks back. Interestingly, so did my other half, the enigmatic Captain Tact.

Generally speaking, the Captain and I do not apply for the same jobs. This is not actually through design; it’s just worked out that way. However, given we met through writing jokes for a spoof paper at university and both have aspirations of making a living from words (perhaps even funny ones) there was always danger of overlap – it was just a question of when it would occur.

The day we received our identical ‘come for an interview’ letters was strange indeed, mixing natural excitement with trepidation about what would happen if one of us got the job. Having three rejection letters from DC under my belt already I was a bit more pessimistic than the Captain. I was also a bit worried about the potential for emotional fallout - I spent a year after school trying to get them to take me on and failed; how would I feel if I finally got to interview stage only to be beaten by him?

He meanwhile was concerned about the logistics of the situation. How much would we see each other if he was commuting from Edinburgh to Dundee, and how much would it cost? Would there be any scope for flexible working; even working from home, or would it be 9-5 office hours? If it’s the latter should we consider moving, or is that silly given the role is maternity cover and won’t last more than a year?

An insight into gender difference, there. Still, there was no point worrying about it before we’d actually been in.

The face to face part of the interview seemed to go OK for us both, but we were less optimistic about the 40 minute grammar assault (so many pages! Neither of us finished) followed by the 45 minute ‘write four 150 word pitches - two strips and two features - yes, The Beano has features now’ test. Never let it be said their interview process is not rigorous.

As it turned out, yesterday we received identical rejection letters; avoiding the feared emotional and practical turmoil and enabling us to chalk the whole thing up to interesting if slightly traumatic experience. However, they did say we interviewed well and should not be put off applying for other roles in the organisation…

Next stop, The Dandy. Followed by The People’s Friend.


  1. I once wrote to DC Thomson suggesting that they introduced a Gaelic column in the Scots Magazine. They replied in such shocked and negative tones that you would have thought I'd made an obscene suggestion to them! They didn't think that their readers would be intersted in reading about Gaelic... Right enough, the magazine does majorly suck so maybe their readers wouldn't be interested.

  2. I wonder who reads Scots Magazine... I don't know anybody that has, although I think there was generally a copy in the dentists I went to as a kid.