I always thought of myself as someone who doesn’t deal well with rejection, but I think I’ve been selling myself short. Having this year given into my writing urges, sentencing myself to a potential life of struggle for my art, I’ve become pretty adept at dealing quickly with rejection and disappointment.
Trying to get a literary agent for example, to represent a novel that you feel you’ve put your heart and soul into and needs to be read by someone (anyone) is hard as hell. By my count so far, I’ve experienced rejection from at least 25 to 30 agencies (I lost track once I got to 20), and the first ten took me a few weeks to get over. However, I consoled myself with the notion that I had put it out too early and what my novel needed most was a rewrite.
So I rewrote it, and rewrote it again, and put it out and got some more rejections, and wondered constantly whether I should make it fit a mould that was more commercial, rather than the enigma it appeared to be. Then I hated the thought of dramatically changing something that I had been working on for two plus years, just to fit into a business model which would have lost the essence of what my book was trying to say; whatever that message was.
And all throughout this process was rejection, and feedback about being a good writer but not quite having “the right stuff”. In the midst of this I faced similar rejection in my personal life and other working life. Yet somehow I found that I didn’t throw myself on to my bed and cry dramatically every time I got a “no” when I wanted a “yes”, as I would have done in my earlier twenties.
No, now my response to rejection or not getting what I want, is to keep going, to write more, make something better, and to come at it from a different angle. I seem to have developed some “resilience” and perhaps it comes from practice or staying focused or both, but I’m holding on to it in case it disappears.
Also music helps; the kind that speaks to your soul and saves you having to struggle with articulating what you’ve been feeling for days. And this is the part where I recommend an artist and a song to any other writers, artists, people in general who feel like you’re up against something and you’ve stopped recognising who you are. Or you’ve faced a lot of rejection on a journey to realising a dream, and you feel close to giving up. Perhaps you feel that it’s stripped you of the things that were good about you. All of this applies to me, and I found solace this week in a song by Sara Bareilles called She Used to Be Mine.
Rejection is just a part of life, which does not take away from the fact that it still sucks when it happens. However, I am finding that the more experience you have of it, the less it stings, the stronger you get, and the more you appreciate it when things do eventually go your way.
Image credit: thumbs down by ImageCatalog from the Noun Project