Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Thoughts on Rejection

Over this past year, I have faced many rejections in some form or another. Rejections from job applications and rejections of my writings have been the most prevalent to me. It has been a slow journey trying to find my feet in the professional world of writing while trying to get a job in the field I am trained in, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I am very fortunate to have the life that I have and to have people surrounding me that really want to see me succeed in all facets of life...my writing life included.

But despite all of this support, rejections still sting. I oftentimes struggle with rejections because my intellectual realm (which includes writing) is an extension of myself. In order to truly connect with my characters I write, I need to dig deep within myself to mold that raw material into something new on a page. 

And I know I'm not that only one. So after you've wallowed in self-pity for a moment after rejection #999, it's time to take a reflective look on rejection. Here are some observations I've made about it this year:

Rejections hurt—but they don't have to break you.

Rejections hurt, there's no doubt about it. When someone tells you no to something you've put your blood, sweat, and tears into, it can feel like a punch to the gut. After you've received several rejections from agents or publishers in the writing world, it can seem like life isn't fair...especially when you go to the bookstore, open a book, and read absolute slop that got published.

Rejections may not always be fair, but life rarely is fair. This realization that, at the end of the day, I am still alive and well despite the rejection, has helped me to cope on most days.

Just repeat this phrase: Rejection will not break me. I am strong, and I am valued.

Rejections don't have to send you into a downward spiral into a black hole. We as writers need to remember to pick ourselves up and remind ourselves why we are writing in the first place.

Rejections are not a reflection of you as a person.

Rejections are not a reflection of you as a person. Let me repeat that for the people in the back: rejections are not rejecting you as a person. I know it can certainly feel that way, especially in the creative world, that if someone doesn't like your work, they don't like you. It's about acceptance...do you like me? Am I good enough?

I find this is the thing I struggle with the most. I put my soul into my writing, ink my heart onto blank pages day after day. I use writing to get out things I would never say or do, just to see how these things would play out in a book. I use writing to talk about things that scare me, and I talk about things that are important to me. 

Therefore, when an agent or publisher rejected me at first, my viseral reaction was to think negatively about myself and my self-worth. Added to this is the fact that many think that writing "is just a hobby", only fueled the fire of my self-doubt.

I just have to remember what I am telling you as well: your work is an extension of everything you are as a person but it is not the SUM of who are you as an individual.

Rejection does not mean your work is not worthy to be seen

Like I said previously, rejections sting. And as an INFJ, I tend to avoid conflict/things that hurt me and my integrity at all cost. 

And yet, I knowingly and willingly participate in my dream of becoming an author. I guess I'm full of contradictions over here.

As rejections come pouring in through all aspects of life, my instinct is to retreat into my turtle shell of safety where nothing bad happens to me, and I feel no bad feelings. But the downside to this is that my cautiousness limits the amount of open doors and windows of opportunities I have. (I guess this is what Piglet from Winnie the Pooh feels like...always being scared of doing things in life)

For the writers: a single rejection on a manuscript, short story, poem etc. does not mean you should shelve the work forever. Creative work is about perseverance. You must keep trying even when others around you think this writing thing is "not for you". You must keep putting yourself out there, because it only takes one "yes" to get an agent, and it only takes one good thing happening to have your writing journey take off. 

If you believe in your dream of becoming a published author, please don't give up. Keep trying, keep upping your game. 

Everyone gets rejected 

Everyone gets rejected. We are all in the same boat as writers, whether or not publication is your ultimate goal. Most everyone on the planet has experienced rejection in some form in their life: they've gotten a bad grade in school, they've gotten a job rejection, turned down from going on a date etc. Knowing that other people are like me helps me to overcome the sourness of the rejection experience.

And especially as writers and other creatives, we seem to seek out chances for us to get rejected on a daily basis through the querying and publishing processes. But, I find that having your tribe of people (whether online or in real life) to support you is so helpful. 

Knowing that everyone gets rejected is somehow a comforting thing. But that's why in my dealings with others, if ever I need to make a serious critique on someone's work, I try my best to do so gently. I try to let them know that a misstep is not the same as me judging them and their worth.

Rejection is a chance to learn and grow

Rejection is a chance to learn and grow. When you get a critique from a beta partner that's less than sunshine and rainbows vomiting in the comments, take a step back. Once the initial reaction of "Ugh, they just don't get it!" wears off, it's time to look at the "rejections" with a new pair of eyes.

Ask yourself: why is this person commenting about this? Are others making similar comments? If yes, then chances are that it is a problem that needs to be addressed. And while some people certainly are trolls who only want to bring others down, most people are genuinely trying to help. (That being said, just because they say something out of the goodness of their hearts, it does not mean you have to implement said suggestion.)

If you keep getting rejected for job interviews, ask yourself how can you improve your resume/CV? Have others help you. Use rejections as a chance to make your product or yourself better. The same goes for writing.

If you keep getting rejections, maybe look at whatever feedback you get (don't demand feedback, though), and see if there are common threads. Is my book suffering from a craft problem? Is it not marketable right now in traditional publishing? Have I been querying the wrong agents/not following submission guidelines?

Whatever rejection you receive, turn it into a positive...even the troll-y ones. When I got a troll as a beta once, it wrecked me. Then I realized: 1) Person is a troll 2) One must not feed the troll, and 3) I now know what I don't want when looking for betas.

Stay strong, my friends. We got this.


What are your thoughts on rejection in the writing world? Comment below, or find me on Twitter!

And as always, may your words be great and your pages many.

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