Monday, January 10, 2011

The Beauty of Rejection

When you read the word rejection, what emotions does it bring up? Probably nothing pleasant. When you're a writer, it comes with the territory, though that doesn't make it any easier to stomach. Rejection can come in many forms. A polite form letter from an editor or agent. A negative review or harsh critic. An unsupportive family member or friend. Living a creative life leaves you wide open for rejection. Which is exactly why I love it.

Because many writers are neurotic (yes, we all have our quirks and that's putting it mildly), we don't always handle the rejection well. I know writers who are petrified--absolutely petrified--at the thought of anyone reading their work. The fear of rejection holds them immobile, and they are unable to move down their creative path. Now, I don't believe you have to share your work. If your creative projects are purely for you, rejection might not be an issue. But there's something to be said for putting yourself out there. In fact, I think life encourages us to do exactly that.

Every writer I know has experienced rejection, in some form. The successful writers turned authors have used rejection as an opportunity for growth. A rejection is not a reflection of your worth. For the record, I don't believe everyone is meant to be an author. Or an actor, rock star, chef, etc. But I hope you don't let rejection deter you from following your creative path. There are many benefits to rejection. The trick is making it work for you.

Benefit #1--Survival of the fittest. Rejection quickly weeds out the folks with no motivation, talent or passion for it (harsh, but true). With that said, a thick skin is a must. Rejection also weeds out the sensitive. Learn to accept it gracefully. If you want to be a writer, this is a crucial skill to have.
Benefit #2--It's a Pass or Fail test. Why is this a benefit? Because if you pass you've just proven to yourself and the world you've made it a priority. That it's important and you won't be deterred.
Benefit #3--You have successfully stepped out of your comfort zone. It's an accomplishment to celebrate! Rejection or not, you should be proud.
Benefit #4--It's an opportunity for growth. For example, if you receive a rejection letter, read it carefully. It might say, "not right for us at this time" or "please send this to another agency." What a gift! Your work is worth a second look, but elsewhere or at a later date. Most people never read past "no thanks." Their loss.
Benefit #5--If you get upset, you now have fuel for your creative fire. They rejected you?!? Crank out another book and make it better then before. Show them you're worth a second look by improving your craft. Then resubmit. Graciously.

The moral of the story? Don't give up. Ever. Take any and all rejections in stride and keep going. You'll be stronger for it.


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