I’m convinced that any writer who says they like rejection is lying. Let me clarify. I admire the writer who puts on the brave face and says they accept rejection. I just they think are fibbing to make themselves feel better. Some writers justify rejection by saying each time their work is stamped NO that means a YES is that much closer. Maybe. Or not.
A writer friend recently emailed me saying she had received the nicest rejection letter she had ever received. She sent it to me. It’s not the one pictured above, but it was similar with kind words and encouragement. Still, it was a rejection letter. To me it’s like being stung by a bee and saying, “that was the best bee sting I ever received.” Imagine if you really wanted to date someone, some sexy intelligent someone, (such as George Clooney when he was still single) and he or she said you have favorable qualities but, well, not good enough for me. Not ever in this lifetime.
I have no rejection letters to post here because I have destroyed all of them I have ever received. I read Stephen King saved his and papered his office with rejection, but my ego is not as strong, and I’m not as confident. We have all read stories of writers suffering multiple rejections, J.K. Rowling to name one, and then hitting the big time. Sorry. I don’t find hope in those stories because I think of all the writers I met who had talent and who never got published and gave up. Rejection is like an arrow to the writer’s fingers. Or can be.
I saved an acceptance letter I received way back in 2005. I even made notes on it which of course mean nothing to me now, but I can’t bring myself to throw out this old letter accepting a short story I wrote. One can’t live on prior success forever. Yet I don’t toss it into the trash as I have all my rejection letters. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have enough acceptance letters.
High school was one big lesson in rejection. And some success. I remember my junior year oh too well. I tried out for the pom pom squad and didn’t make it. I was devastated when I read the list of names and saw mine missing. Oh there must be a mistake! Nope. The agony of defeat. I made the squad the next year, along with my friends Debbie and Gloria, but that junior year I was rejected haunted me. There were many more rejections in high school, from snubs from girls I wanted to be friends with to boys that didn’t ask me out, to teacher’s disapproval. High school should have made most of us a pro in rejection.
Many years have passed, and yet when my writing gets rejected I feel as if I’m 16 again and told I’m not “good enough” to shake my pom poms. That I am not worthy enough to wear a blue and white uniform and saddle shoes. (I did love those saddle shoes. They were fun to polish.) Why haven’t I learned to brush off rejection? Not everyone likes me. I don’t like everyone. And yet why in the world do I think everyone should like my writing?
I might not enjoy rejection, but I need to understand that it exists. That it is real. It will not go away. Ever. For any of us. Not until we die. Especially not if we are striving to achieve a goal, whatever it might be.
I turned to my Treasury of Women’s Quotations for help from successful women. Girl Power! My idol Dolly Parton helped me. She said “the way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.” I adore Dolly.
And wouldn’t you know it today on my way to the park to walk my dog, Darla, it rained and in the sky lo and behold — a rainbow. Which in dry Phoenix, where it hadn’t rained in several weeks, is a miracle in of itself. Then I sat down to write and found a quote by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Dear Abby. I used to always read her column in the Chicago Sun Times when I was in high school.
Abby said, “if you want a place in the sun, you have to put up with a few blisters.”
Rejection might blister our beliefs in our dreams, but if we can believe Dolly’s rainbow is just around the corner, even in the driest of places in our lives, we will be too busy striving for our pot of gold to let rejection stop us. I still don’t plan on saving my rejection letters. I’m not that grown up yet.