[Original post here]
I’m sure we’ve all been there. Whether it is for a job, school, publication, relationship, or whatever, rejection sucks. I’ve been through my share of it, and it doesn’t hurt any less when it happens. I still have those moments where I feel completely pathetic, utterly incompetent, and absolutely unworthy.
About a year ago, I made a decision to submit my work. And a few months after that, I got the dreaded news: my work was not accepted.
Rejection sucks, to put it bluntly. I put myself out there, and I was found wanting. If you’re like me, you don’t feel like your work is being rejected – you feel like you are being rejected. You can’t dissociate yourself from the work.
Normally I would let this eat at me. I would slip into an emotional coma and I would be miserable company. Think lots of self-pitying and moping. The difference now is that I can deal with those emotions a lot faster, and I can use rejection to my advantage.
Unrelated: one of the best things about becoming an adult is that, you know, you grow up.
I still mope a bit, and maybe I’ll even cry [Note: Crying is like, my ultimate emotional release. Sometimes I cry not because I’m sad, but because I have so much stress in my life that I need to physically get it out of me.]. It’s upsetting to pursue something and it not work out. I went for it, right? That’s because I wanted it. When I don’t get something I put time and energy into, I get upset.
And then, ladies and gents, I get over it.
I’m not the greatest at moving on, but I am getting a lot better at it. Instead of lingering over all the things I did wrong or not at all, instead of over-analyzing everything that led up to the rejection, I try to look at how to prevent that from happening again.
I know, I know. I’m a genius. This is a revolutionary concept. Many of you may be rolling your eyes. Those of you that have difficulty with rejection know what I’m talking about here. It’s easier said than done.
Detachment is a hard process. I give myself a little time after that email, phone call, or letter. Depending on the situation, I’ll wait anywhere from twenty-four hours to two weeks. For me, it’s the ache that brings me back. I love writing, and I ache for it. When I feel that ache again, I know I’m ready.
And then I get my ass in gear. I look at what I did from the opposite perspective. I’ll read out loud, or I’ll put myself in the mindset of the reader. When you’re thinking as an author, you may not be as critical as you should be. You may not be asking the hard questions, questions that may seem simple on the surface but have huge ramifications for the plot or characters:
- Does this make sense?
- Why did this happen?
- What did X do before this event? What will (s)he do after?
Thanks to this strategy, I made huge changes to the submitted work. In retrospect, it was not ready. I was too close to the writing to see it, though. And sure, I’d love it if I had not gotten that rejection notice. But I did get it, and it ultimately helped me become a stronger writer.