The thing about us writers is we're writers so everyone expects us to be neurotic, sensitive butterflies. Sure that's pretty common but to pursue something, that involves willingly spend hours crafting something that comes from your veins, heart, and soul, and then showing it to people, sets us up for ideas being scrutinized and words choices being questioned, and it takes lots of guts, and a really thick skin to not get upset on a daily basis about it. Sure we're all only human, and sometimes what people say is either unfair, or personally offends us, but a crucial tool, for being a writer of anything, is taking every morsel of feedback in a professional and productive manner. Here some of the most helpful life lessons that writing has taught me about rejection.
1. Everybody has their own standards about what's good, bad, and ugly:
You know that cliche saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder?" Well... it's cliche but it's also true, and definitely also applies to writing. There's no such thing as one, universal standard of what counts as good writing but there are constantly changing, popular beliefs on what the word "good" actually means. It's why it's so important for writers to read avidly, and read a colourfully diverse array of genres. So much can be learned about what catches peoples' eye in the literary world, and the non-fiction world, based on closely paying attention, and figuring out what people are interested in. If you want to write sci-fi or horror read Gothic classics such as Frankenstein
, while figuring out who's selling lots of sc-fi/ horror books in the here and now, if you want to write poetry, read epics such as The Illiad
but also get your hands on Modernist poetry as well, etc. If your work doesn't make it to a specific place, it's not a sign of the quality/ overall merit of your writing, it's a sign that you need to do more research on where your work actually belongs.
2.Considering The Bigger Picture Is Important:
All of the article and books I've read on writing, and every university level , creative writing lecture I've attended all say the same thing: the average magazine, website, publishing house, etc rarely struggles with finding anyone (period) interested in writing for them, and often has too many potential contributors/writers to choose from. If they pick you you're clearly "the shit" in their eyes, and if they don't pick you a saying my mom often says is a perfect way of looking at the circumstance: "you didn't miss the bus that's just not the bus you're meant to be on." Although this saying was created to decrease the stress levels that sometimes fester and creep up, while racing to catch the bus on time in the morning, I think it perfectly describes what rejection really means for any writer that can actually write. Writing is an art that takes a lot of persistence, therefore complaining about rejection is a lot more valid after hundreds instead of roughly one to four rejections.
3. Every Time You Feel Discouraged Think Of J.k Rowling:
One of the best moments of a Children's Lit course I took in university was when we studied Harry Potter
, which lead to the professor's earnest but also passionate account of J.K Rowling's rags to riches, true story. Before Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone
's first acceptance J.K Rowling accumulated hundreds and hundreds of rejection letters. While trying to get one of my essays published I was rejected 30 or 40 times before online magazine, Talking Soup
said yes to publishing it on their website.
4. Learning To Find The Humour In Rejection Is A Crucial Gateway To Accepting And Embracing It In A Non-Passive Manner:
At this point I've accumulated such a large collection of rejection letters, both electronically, and non-electronically that now all I have to do is read a sentence or two and I can tell if it's an acceptance or rejection letter, because it turns out literally everyone constructs their rejection and acceptance letters, the exact same way. Honestly I find that extremely hilarious to the point where, when I receive a rejection letter I laugh way more often than I actually get upset about it. That's what I mean by finding the humor in rejection.
5. Comparing Yourself To Others Is The Most Self-Destructive Thing You Can Do:
What writing and everyday life have in common is that there will always be someone prettier, faster, smarter, stronger, etc. Measuring success based on someone else's success isn't a good idea because sometimes it seems one way, but is actually another, unless you're that person's close friend or whatever. Perhaps all it will actually take is time for you to get there. People reach milestones at different times, so if someone has or is making more money than you, gets more attention, guys or girls than you, or has reached a crucial milestone that you haven't yet it isn't a race. You might even have some unique quality that they don't already have, without realizing it.
Always remember that rejection is an ongoing, important part of the writer's job description, which has the potential to make us all wiser, more entrepreneurial, and stronger human beings, and no matter how much writing experience you have a writer is a person who writes.
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