Yes, I am a writer and should be more creative and dazzle you with new ways of stating the obvious, but sometimes simplicity is best.
Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t hate rejection? Asking someone out with sweaty palms and pounding heart to get a nice no, thank you but let’s be friends?
How about my poor husband who turns to me one night and asks me a leading question but I say I’m really, really tired, can I please take a raincheck?
Or my son who runs over to a small knit group on the playground who all know each other and when he tries to join them he is told he is too young for the game and he can’t play?
Let’s backtrack. I had a bad week. We all do, but I got slammed with 2 rejections from editors I believed would publish my work. One was a novel, and one was a short story. I had been studying the short story magazine for months, and wrote something simple and dazzling. Slam dunk, I thought. Then the editor asked for my full manuscript, and I KNEW I would get this sale. My book was fabulous. I was not being egotistic – writers go from one end of the spectrum to the other. Full superhero rock status to I am the worst writer in the whole world and shouldn’t even be writing a business letter. So, the rejections hit the same day (always the case, right?) and I am completely shell shocked andthe twin sibling of REJECTION now enters my world:
I must have been wrong. I probably can’t write very well. I probably do suck. Was I crazy to even think that one day I can make a career out of this and quit my day job? Or work part time and dedicate the other half to purusing my dream?
The overwhelming need to crawl into bed and sleep and then eat masses amounts of chocolate struck me so hard I trudged toward the bedroom. But stopped at the door as two demanding voices and stomping feet re-entered the hallway. “We want to go to the park!” the older one announces. The younger one, who has a bad case of hero worship and is really getting the raw end of the deal most of the time, echoes the statement. “Yeah, we want to go to the park.” “And have a picinic!” “Yeah!” “And then we want to go to Target and the library, mommy.” “Yeah!”
“But first I want juice and teddy grahams, ok mommy?” Yeah!”
Hand on the doorknob, I shook myself back to sanity and realized, I can’t go to bed. I have to go take care of my children. So I did everything they asked. Most of the day I was a bit foggy, but there were some real moments of engagement where I got out of myself and just enjoyed the moment.
Over the next few weeks, I got slammed with more news about my daytime job (As my girlfriend says – these things come in threes) so I really have been struggling to find my footing as some major life changes come hurtling my way. And thank God for having a reason to get up in the morning no matter how depressed I am – at least it keeps me moving, and that is when I really thought hard about the rejection/confusion pattern.
Writers tell other writers not to take rejection personally. And I agree, but it’s pretty hard not to when you spend day after day crafting a story and putting it lovingly out into the world to have someone who is important say they dont’ like it. Hard NOT to take it personally. Any kind of rejection is personal, and after the rejection sting fades, confusion walks right in its pathway to make you question every decision you ever made. Confusion will test your endurance and rattle your confidence and shake your soul. Because the confusion is about who you are and what you want. I have learned one important lesson in the writing world: take the lumps, feel the grief and move on. If you don’t, then you can’t be a writer. If you don’t keep trying, you will never succeed. Same thing in parenthood and in life in general. Everything feels personal, and every decision made can be questioned. People will reject you at all turns and sometimes you feel you can handle it, sometimes you can’t. On the days you can’t, just keep moving forward. One day, you will be able to resume.
I’m writing again. Quit for a while, questioned my sanity, then decided to plot along. No choice really – if I don’t, I will never get published again.
I read the most incredible book by Dean Koontz last week where a part of the novel was written by a dog. There are many more books like this nowadays, but this was written in the eighties and it was very fresh to get a piece of the world through a dog’s eyes. He was a stray, and always looking for a family. He had his fur set on fire by some horrible boys, scraped for food in alleys and garbage cans, watched many families enter and exit his life, found friends and enemies on the street, but never gave up. He kept thinking that around the next corner was his family: a warm home, a child to love, and treats to eat. That kept him alive on the streets for a long time, the belief that something better was around the corner. Of course, he finally found his dream, and I cried like he was the main character of the novel, because he was so very real.
Maybe that’s why I love romance novels so much.
You can always look around the corner and find a happy ending.
Gack! You are very, very far from being the worst writer in the world.
We both know many writers, some multiple-published, whose words lay like leaden lox on the page. Yours sing, humming with light and bright. That talent is rare. This blog is a testament to that.
That said, yes, when the whole world crushes your spirit, it’s hard to take. It’s especially hard when you hear of the success of someone who’s been at it for all of five minutes. But that’s how it goes.
And, aside from friends and family and those funny little boys, there’s always ice cream!
Quick, go to this website: http://www.writeattitude.net/
I find it very uplifting!
And of course, when you put your heart and sole into a manuscript, a rejection feels personal. But consider this: You got a rejection from ONE editor in a sea of thousands. One person didn’t like your story. And who knows why. It could have been #13 in the pile, and she always rejects #13. She could have spilled her coffee on it, or accidentally deleted it. She could have been having a bad day and rejected everything in her inbox. My point is, just because you got a rejection doesn’t mean your story is bad. It just means you haven’t found the the right editor. She’s out there. Keep trying! And with regard to the short story market, who knows how they pick them. I submitted two and both were rejected. Yet some of the ones I’ve read were horrible.
Cheer up and consider how lucky you are. You have a wonderful (if not demanding) family who loves you and good friends who care and support you!
Thanks for the link – very helpful!!!
Jen, Rejection does suck. I believe it was Somerset Maughm who said he received enough to paper the walls of his study. Janet
I’m sorry you had a bad week. I think we have discussed before the rejections most writers face. It’s a tough business.
But more important than any of those rejections could ever be is your willingness to keep trying.
Don’t let it knock your optimism it’s one of your best qualities. I was just thinking the other day how I wish I was more like you in that aspect. I have seen your optimism shaken through the years but I’ve never seen it falter.
I hope I never do.
Besides you have to succeed I need some rich relations and friends to keep me from living in a box after I retire from my cubicle one day. lol
Thank you, thank you, for being such a great friend. Once you sell your gorgeous art you can bail me out!
Rejection sucks but remember our conversation your first meeting back about why we write and we would write no matter what.
You are such a mom! I love a good – Remember what you said that day! And you are so right, I meant it too, so thanks for the reminder.