One of the hardest parts of being a writer is the fact that rejection is part of a writer’s life, moreso than just about any other profession. (Of course, artists, dancers, actors, etc. might disagree. For them, keep reading. Here’s something that will help everyone.) And unless a writer goes entirely to self-publishing (and even then there is rejection from the number of sales you don’t make), rejection is just part of the job description.
No one likes being rejected. When I first started out as a writer, I got rejection after rejection. Like a puppy, I never gave up hope. I would wait for the postman to deliver the mail and eagerly sort through it to find a hopeful acceptance. Most of the time, there was nothing. It took a long time to get a response from a publisher or magazine editor. Then the day came when the publisher’s/editor’s masthead envelope arrived. With trembling hands, I would open it. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, it was a form rejection. The other .1% was a personalized rejection or a standard rejection with a personal note scribbled on it from the editor.
The .1% I prized. It meant that I was getting closer, but I was still missing the brass ring. For a few moments, I felt crushed, discouraged, of lesser worth. Then I would think of the manuscript I was working on at the time. This helped me regain my enthusiasm, and, my light not quite as bright as before, I would go back to my writing again.
And that’s the crux of the matter right there…what rejections do to a writer, actually any person. As a writer, until we learn to recover from this consistent rejection quickly without losing face, self-worth and enthusiasm, we won’t make it to the halls of glory.
Here’s something to help. I used to pin this anonymous tip up near my typewriter (and then word processor, and then computer). Whenever I got a rejection, I read it. It helped me enormously.
The $20.00 Bill
A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this to one of you, but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air.
“Well,” he continued, “What if I do this?” He dropped it on the ground, and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?” Still hands went into the air.
“My friends, you all have learned a very valuable lesson,” the speaker said. “No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it, because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth 20 dollars.
“Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel that we are worthless, but, no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you and to those who respect you.
“The worth of our lives comes not in what we do, or whom we know, but by who we are.
“You are special, don’t ever forget it! … Always count your blessings, not your problems.”
I think that about sums it up, don’t you?