I want to talk about rejection. I've wanted to talk about it for a while, but the subject is always uncomfortable and it's a hard one to find a positive angle to write from. No, I don't think I've found a way to make you cheer when you hear the word "no", but I do think that the last few weeks have helped me get a better grasp on what I want to say. I need to start with a little of what might be called "whining", so please forgive me. I promise, this is heading somewhere good.
As a writer, my day often starts off with a big, bubble bursting NO! Sometimes this is because I've actually done something wrong or let a silly mistake slip past me. Sometimes it is simply because someone else heard yes and there was no more room. Occasionally this no is delivered in pleasant tones that only make me sigh at the lost opportunity. Others... well, let's just say that I've dealt with a few people who have left me licking wounds for a lot longer than their rudeness should have been allowed to affect me. As a writer who is trying to sell books, whole new avenues for NO in all of it's various forms come into play. Toss in my artist side and I can honestly say that the vast majority of responses to my work have been on the rejection side.
It sounds bleak, doesn't it? I mean, really, why keep slogging away when the odds are so far against me? Well, there are a few reasons:
1) Growth. Every time I hear no, I have a choice to give up or to see what can be done to improve my odds of hearing yes. Giving up isn't as easy as it sounds when you love something. Learning to do things differently may be hard, and it may be painful, but any opportunity to grow and become better should ALWAYS be embraced.
2) Resilience. Being able to bounce back from a negative experience is important. Getting into the habit of doing so in one area of your life helps make it easier in others. Picking myself up and dusting myself off so I can take another run at my writing goals helps me handle setbacks in my daily life better.
3) Creative Problem Solving Skills. I get to try all sorts of new ways to do things. It keeps my brain active and alert. The process becomes a puzzle to work out, and I enjoy that as much as all of the rest. Plus, I get to pass on what I've learned to others who may find that even though something didn't work for me, it is perfect for them.
4) Self Knowledge. Hearing NO makes you look at yourself closer. I've learned to let the overly critical voice in my head have its say and then tune it out in order to find out what I really believe from a balanced point of view. It took a while to get to that point, but now that I'm there (most days) I've found that it is the act of writing and the act of creating that fulfills me. Having a piece of my work find the right home is a nice perk, and knowing that my hard work is not stuck in the wrong home is priceless. Rejection is often just a way to keep what is important to you out of the wrong hands so that it can be nurtured in the right ones.
5) Perseverance. Sticking to things can be difficult. Rejection adds the temptation to walk away. Choosing to ignore the urge to throw in the towel is empowering. Knowing that I can stick to a path that I feel makes me a better person makes the rough patches easier to deal with.
None of this means that rejections is something I pursue, but I do admit that I am growing oddly thankful for its occasional visit. Do I wish those visits were fewer and father between? Oh yes! I sure do. BUT now that rejection and I have met so many times, I have come to find out that it is not my enemy. It is that friend who loves me enough to say NO when I need to hear it, and who will help steer me in the direction I need to be going.
If you are currently upset about a NO, take a minute to look at the situation. Could it be that rejection saved you from an opportunity that wasn't right for you? Maybe it's giving you a chance to improve so you will be ready for a better opportunity that is just around the corner. Take some time to make friends with rejection and see how it's helping you become the best person you can be. I suggest a mug of hot chocolate and a fuzzy bathrobe for this process... it helps... a little.
Being a homeschooling parent for 13 years and an independent author/illustrator makes a person learn quite a bit about a lot of things. Now it's time to pass it on!