Dealing with Rejection

No other word in a writer’s vocabulary hurts as much. Go ahead. I’ll admit it if you will.
The other day I received news from my agent of a rejection on a manuscript of which I was very proud. And so it was apropos and timely that rejection would be the topic of this month’s column. After the obligatory chest beating and depression over the rejection, I began to ponder why that word hurts like hell.
First of all, rejection can be valuable. Too many rejections on one project, especially if those doing the rejection are saying the same thing, may tell you that a rewrite is in order. But I also decided that there might be other words worse than “rejection” to writers.
“Quit” is one of those worse words, especially when spurred on by the word “rejection.” Not writing anymore because a few people turned you down for publication is a great sin in my writer’s book. Don’t let anyone ever tell you are not good enough. You may not be great, but you can become better if you work at it. And somewhere, somehow you can be published, even if you do it yourself.
It is understandable if you are thrown into a funk at rejection, and I was for a few days. I began questioning myself. “I will never sell again,” I told myself in a whiny voice deep in my head. And that leads me to another worse word.
I remember I once had a job where a supervisor didn’t particularly like me, though I didn’t know why. Although I was a hard worker and did a good job, his dislike made me doubt myself. I went through tough times during that doubt phase, then I realized that I have to believe in me. I had to believe in what I was doing. I had to please myself first. Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t listen to criticism that would make me better, but I was not going to pay attention to the destructive doubters because as a writer we deal with self-doubt enough and don’t need any special help.
So back to rejection.
I’ll be honest, each time I do receive a rejection, I do want to quit writing and take up tatting or weaving and I do doubt myself. But I get over it and end up back at the computer. Because if I didn’t write, I would feel much, much worse.
So when it comes down to it, “rejection” is just a word. Erase it. Delete it. Replace it with “write.”
Patricia Marcantonio

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Filed under Archives 2008, Question of the Month, Writing

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