February 13, 2012

Musings of a (Rejected) Writer


Even though you know it’s coming, somehow it can still sneak up on you.

Even though you’ve been warned of its ominous presence, its fierce winds can still knock you off your feet.

And even though you’ve done all you can to prepare against it, sometimes, it just doesn’t matter. The storm will come regardless.

No, I’m not talking about a hurricane, tornado, or some other natural disaster—but this has as much destructive capability.

I’m talking about rejection.

One of the first things you hear other writers tell you is that everyone in this business experiences rejection on some level. I’ve even been told by an author of 25+ novels that she still experiences rejection from publishers, editors, etc. So yeah, I know in my head that rejection is part of the biz.

But then it happened to me.

Friday night, I received not one, but TWO, rejection letters spaced about an hour apart. They were from completely different publications for completely different entries (one was an essay/article, one was a poem).

Uh, yeah, let’s just say that didn’t feel good. Receiving one? OK, I can maybe chalk it up to “that’s not my expertise” or “it’s all who you know” excuses. But two? Yikes. My self-confidence took a nose-dive.

And if I let it, rejection has the potential to derail this dream of mine.

I’ve realized that rejection can do one of two things to us: make us so discouraged we quit trying, or motivate us to do better. It’s our choice.

I know that receiving two rejection letters doesn’t seem like much, and it’s not, but I have to decide RIGHT NOW how I’m going to handle rejection. Because it’s going to happen again. And again.

I mean, it’s easy to get so discouraged I wonder why I’m subjecting myself to this. Why not just pursue those things in life I know I can succeed at?

But a mentor of mine encouraged me on Saturday to remember why I’m doing this in the first place. And then she reminded me of Hebrews 12:

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Regardless of what obstacles I face, no matter the rejection, will I run with perseverance the race marked out for me?

With all my heart, I long to say, “Yes!”

Your Turn: Ever faced rejection (in writing or otherwise)? How did you handle it? What did it teach you?

*Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

18 comments:

  1. First of all, I'm sorry about the rejections...what a bummer. And on the same night, too. If I was Amish, I'd be "Ach"-ing all over the place. :) But seriously, sorry...

    There's one line you wrote that I feel like was lifted from my own brain: "Why not just pursue those things in life I know I can succeed at?" I ask myself this all. the. time. I like to succeed...can't stand failing...so why not just stick to my day job and forget this writing thing?

    But you said it so well - God has given us a race to run. I'm no runner, but I'm fairly certain there's a certain amount of pain associated with running...:) Same with pursuing dreams...it'll be worth it, though, won't it, when we pass the finish line!

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    1. Amen, sista! It will be so worth it.

      And I hope I didn't come off like I was complaining about receiving rejections. Just thought I'd let people know that rejections are part of this, and part of life, really, and anything worth pursuing will be hard. Pride-breaking. But like you said, worth it in the end.

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  2. Sorry to hear your news. I know it can hurt. For me, I have learned that rejection by one person doesn't mean rejection for all. God has the perfect agent/publisher/etc out there for you. You don't want to settle for second best- so sit back and wait while God continues to work it all out. His timing is perfect, perhaps the right person isn't ready to receive your work, or maybe God has something he wants to teach you first.

    When I first recieved a rejection letter I was bummed, but God spoke through the hurt and self doubt and told me that I needed to learn that this process was by HIS will and design and NOT by my efforts/talents. I think had I got an agent immediately I wouldn't have given God the credit he deserves. I would have thanked him, but not fully relied upon him. My pride would have gotten in the way. Now, whenever the long awaited for moment arrives, I know I will give God all the glory he deserves. Yes he has given me talent but I cannot do this on my talent alone.

    I'll be praying for you on this journey. It can be a long painful one, but there are blessings even in the darkest hours. Hang in there- God's not finished with you yet!

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    1. Thanks, TC! It sounds like God is teaching you a lot through this whole process. That's what I want for myself too. You're so right. If things came easily, we'd be tempted to give credit to ourselves. But when they're hard, and we still "succeed," through much perseverance, it's easier to see how God led us the entire way, and that's it is all because of His blessing and His work in our lives.

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  3. Oh sure. Taught me how badly I want to keep at it. Taught me why I'm in this and why I want to stay in it. Taught me a thing or two about my writing as well.

    ~ Wendy

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    1. Those are all things I'm learning, too. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  4. Oh yes, been there done that. :) I always give myself permission to be disappointed for a certain amount of time. And then when that time is up, I pull up my britches and get back to work. :)

    Another thing that helps me is to remember that the rejection isn't a rejection of *me*. It just means my story wasn't the right fit at the right time, or that I still have some work to do. Taking the personal sting out of it helps me focus on improving next time.

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    1. Great thoughts, Sarah. It IS important to get back up and get back to working. And yes, yes, yes, I'm always needing to remind myself that the rejection. isn't. personal.

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  5. Yeah, it stings, but life goes on. For me, having my artwork critiqued by master artists was actually more painful than having my writing rejected. But those critiques made me a better artist.

    As long as you learn that it's not personal (they aren't rejecting YOU...just your writing) it becomes easier to handle.

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    1. So true, so true. And if we focus on that whole "it makes you better" part of it, then it's worth it in the end.

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  6. I'm sorry about the passes, Lindsay. They do sting. The upside is that they're a testimony to your tenacity, and tenacity is a great asset for a writer to have.

    Like most writers, I have a rejection collection. I actually framed the first one and had it on the wall for quite a while. Why? Because it proved I was a "real" writer. I'd taken the risk and sent my work "out there," which is something many never do. I felt my dedication was worth celebrating.

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    1. That's a great story, Keli! I think it helps me so much just to remember that all published authors have a rejection story. :) Thanks for your encouragement!

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  7. Rats. And rats. And rats.
    I wish we lived near each other. I'd come over and take you out for your favorite "whatever" that gets you out of the doldrums. Starbucks? Drive through Sonic? Something else altogether? Name it.
    Rejection. Part of the game. I would love to find a "You May Now Skip Rejection Road" card for the writing life. Haven't.
    I reframed it by calling it "Regrouping."
    I get "Regrouping" letters.
    No thank yous that make me sit back, regroup, and try again.
    But, yeah, it still stings. Sometimes more than others.

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    1. That's awesome...regrouping letters. I like it!

      And yes, I wish that too! We could hit Starbucks AND Sonic. :) (You know, we have an indoor Sonic not that far from me...awesome place to hang out when it's too hot in the summer to sit outside. But that's a really random side note!)

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  8. You already got great advice and encouragement from others, but I just wanted to chime in and say "keep your chin up." I always abide by the rule that there is a reason for everything and in the long run, it always seems fitting. It is difficult to receive rejections, or to never hear back from publishers, but I feel like if you can't risk failure in life, then you'll never learn and grow. Good luck!!!

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    1. Thanks, Patrice! I know...if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, right? :P

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  9. Right there with you, sweet Lindsay! The Lord speaks to me in interesting ways and one is through music, but not necessarily Christian music. This just happens to be sung by a Christian, and your hometown Glendale-girl, Jordin Sparks:

    Now you're feeling more and more frustrated
    And you're getting all kind of impatient waiting

    We live and we learn to take
    One step at a time
    There's no need to rush
    It's like learning to fly
    Or falling in love
    It's gonna happen when it's
    Supposed to happen and we
    Find the reasons why
    One step at a time


    Press on, girlfriend!

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    1. I haven't heard that song (although my brother went to school with Jordin, lol)! That's awesome. Yep, you're so right. One. step. at. a. time. Just keep moving. If we stop, then it's over and we'll never get there. Thanks for your encouragement, Susan!

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