“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.” James Lee Burke
To write about this topic is stomach-upsetting for me. I am the penultimate expert on the subject of rejection: in my personal life, in my work, in my career, and in my writing. I joke that failure is a familiar friend to me, but that rejection is my sworn enemy. I can deal with failure because I know that out of it will some day come success. Rejection, on the other hand, is a form of failure that is so much more personal and ego-devouring, that when it hits me, it throws me into the bowels of depression, and I have a very hard time clawing my way out of its clutches.
I could quote chapter, book and verse on the number of ubersuccessful people who suffered rejection before ever seeing their proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. 27 publishers rejected Theodore Giesel’s first book. Stephen King was rejected 30 times before his first book sold. Supposedly, Jack London received over 600 rejection slips before he ever sold a story. The list goes on, but one thing they all had in common was that rejection did not mean the end of their desire to write. It probably spurred it on just to prove the rejectors wrong.
Obviously, I’m writing this today because I, too, have suffered another writing rejection. And it hurts. Like hell. This time I was so confident that something good was going to come out of my submission – based on what I was told by the person I was submitting to – that when the final rejection came, with no explanation of why, I was devastated. Beyond devestated, actually. I had to talk myself off a ledge. A proverbial one, but a ledge just the same. To be rejected, to have my work rejected, my thoughts, my ideas, the way I write the words, is soul-killing. I could barely put a sentence together for a while because every time I opened my mouth, all I wanted to do was wail, “Why??!!”
A little overly melodramatic, but true.
I’ve had a few days now to get over the hurt, shock, annoyance, dismay and anger. I no longer want to make a phone call and say vicious things to the person at the other end about their heritage and schooling. I’ve pulled myself back in from the ledge to my writing room. I am still having a little difficulty with the “Why” but for now, I will ignore that question and ask myself this one: “Where do I go from here?” The easiest answer is back to my laptop, so that is where I am today.
And where I will be every other day I have the time opportunity to be. I will not let this latest rejection steal my joy about writing. And it is a joy. No one should ever be allowed to rob you of that.
To quote one of the smartest women I know – my friend Jill – who is quoting her father when she says, “every thing happens for a reason.” This is so true. I don’t know the reason now, but I am confident I will someday. As the James Lee Burke quote of above tells us, this rejection is dues I am paying that will some day, some way, be translated back into my work.
Want to talk about your rejections??