Saturday, April 12, 2008

Writing and (Gasp) Rejection

I’ve decided that one of the hardest things about writing for publication is exposing oneself to rejection.

Let’s face it, rejection is no fun. It hurts. It’s the realization that “something about me, or something I’ve created isn’t good enough.” And deep down, everybody wants to be good enough.

Since my children are in a blended family due to divorce, I often find myself on weekends or holidays dropping them off for visitation. Today I was marveling that I still occasionally feel an emotional sting as my children run off to the arms of their other parent. As I drove away this afternoon, I wondered why. Since I’m happily married and secure in my kids’ love for me, why do these drop-offs continue to be uncomfortable? As I thought about it, I realized that it’s the reminder of the rejection--the reminder that at one time, I somehow wasn’t good enough.

When we write, we spend countless hours encapsulating thousands of our thoughts into organized typed symbols. That’s a strange process, when you think about it. We capture ideas floating in brain space and arrange them into tiny lines and shapes on a page or screen. And as mechanical as that is, there is a whole lot of our spiritual essence which goes into that work. So of course it hurts to get a manuscript rejection. Sheesh, it even hurts to read that some random citizen gave your book only three stars out of five on a public book review website. (Grumble grumble.)

But rejection is an opportunity to re-evaluate. We should ask ourselves if the criticism can give us a clearer picture of things. Is it valuable information we can apply toward revision? Are we targeting the wrong market, or do we need to polish, restructure or re-think? Could a little rejection keep us grounded--so we're still seeing eye-to-eye with everyone else?

Remember that another person’s opinion of our work may be off-base or just plain wrong. That dismissive editor or agent may not have grasped the overall vision of the piece, or maybe she was just having a bad hair day. And let's face it, we can't please the world. There's always somebody out there who will disagree with us or misunderstand what we're trying to do. Either way, we can let it be an occasion for greater resolve. We can resolve to get tougher, work harder, and prove to ourselves we can do it. We can resolve to keep moving forward in the direction of our dreams, step by step, until we arrive. We can't be successful writers and let rejection fester too much.

(Now as for you, Mr. Snowman, you can just plain give it up.)

Fondly,

Kristyn Crow
President, Snow Haters Club of America

(If I had to scrape another windshield I probably would have died.)

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