Overcoming Rejection

All of my young life, I was a tomboy and thrill-seeker, ready for anything.  Heights never scared me, nor did picking up “icky” things like snakes and spiders.  Riding my bike no-handed was a welcome challenge, and from the age of ten, rollercoasters opened up a world where my heart raced so fast in my chest that I thought it might burst.  It’s a feeling I still love to this day.

None of those things scared me nearly as much as opening myself up to ridicule and rejection.  I never showed it to my peers, but whenever I got picked on, I’d go home and cry my eyes out, wounded to the core.  Ever a sensitive soul, I would spend days wondering why someone didn’t like me, no matter how often my mom tried telling me that it was the other person’s problem, not mine.

It was even worse when it came to boys.  I rarely asked a guy out, and the few times that I dared to put myself out there, I received another rejection.  They weren’t all because a boy didn’t like me, and some refusals were very sweet, but they were still a “no”.  It would take me years before I could garner up enough courage to tell another guy I liked him.

My fear of rejection was one of the reasons I eventually knew I wasn’t cut out to be an actress.  Logically, I realized that the dismissals weren’t meant to be personal, but internally, I twisted the “thank you, no” into “you suck”, or some derivative thereof. So when I decided it was time to get serious about writing, I paused for a moment and thought Are you nuts?  You HATE rejection, and now you want to sign on for another career that’s riddled with it?!

I’ve since come to realize that it doesn’t kill, or even hurt much anymore, to be rejected.  In fact, I’ve learned that rejection teaches you about perseverance.  Not that I’m a seasoned pro at this – I’ve queried just under 20 agents so far – but with each one, I grow less and less afraid of seeing that “no thank you” email.  I even came across a quote:

We keep going back, stronger, not weaker, because we will not allow rejection to beat us down. It will only strengthen our resolve. To be successful there is no other way.
~ Earl G. Graves

Seeing that quote (and others like it) has helped me to realize that rejection is part and parcel of the life of a writer.  Even after I get that agent, there are many publishers out there “waiting” to reject my book.  And even after obtaining a publisher, there will be readers, critics, etc, whose possible rejections I will have to face.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not quite ready to shout from the top of the roof “WooHoo!  I just got another rejection!”, but maybe I should hope to achieve that level of acceptance.  After all, another rejection is proof that I’m still in there, trying to be published.

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Babygirl
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 11:24:08

    Very nice post..

    Reply

  2. Dana
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 12:08:54

    SNORK! Yeah, I’ve never managed to get to the Yay, rejections! point either, but I totally agree with your attitude towards them. That being said, a bad review can still put me in a total funk if it hits me at the wrong time, but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. Love the quote!

    Reply

  3. Janet Ann Collins
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 13:26:51

    Getting a rejection proves that you’re really a writer.

    Reply

  4. Maddy
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 13:33:44

    I am about to start trying to find an agent – although first of all I need to write the letter to the potential agent, secondly I need to finish the book, thirdly I need to fix the hic-cups in my scrivener programme…………

    However, back to the main issue, the rejections.

    My personal plan is to find the perfect agent on the planet for me and then query them and nobody else, ever – it will be a match made in heaven.

    Should that plan fail for any reason, and I’ll admit that there is some possibility that plan A has a fault, then I will work on the theory that the plan didn’t fail as such, I merely didn’t find the right agent with the first query.

    I think what I’m trying to say is – they’re not rejecting you, it’s just that whoever you queried wasn’t a good match, which is a good thing really, because somewhere out there, an agent is waiting for your letter, and soon, you’ll find your match.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Nov 28, 2010 @ 14:04:45

      LMAO . . . I LOVE plan A, Maddy. However, because I’m not exactly sure what would constitute the one-and-only-agent-for-me, I’ll have to run the risk of multiple rejections on my way to Mr./Mrs. Right Agent.

      Good luck fixing the hiccoughs in Scrivener. And thank you for the laugh and for the proper perspective on getting a rejection.

      Reply

  5. E. B. Davis
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 13:55:28

    Sometimes rejections do mean “you suck.” But most of the time they mean, “this piece just isn’t what we’re looking for.” Writing isn’t a litmus test. Writing is an art, and like beauty, is judged by the beholder. What appeals to one agent/editor doesn’t suit others. It’s a lousy way to run a business, but to increase the odds of success you have to personalize it by “getting out there.” Blogging, attending conferences and meeting agents is the best way for them to identify your name on the page with a face. When they make the connection, your odds increase. That’s why I blog, try to get shorts published, and attend conferences when I can afford it. Good luck Alyx–you’ll be fine!

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Nov 28, 2010 @ 20:04:40

      Thank you SO much, E.B. The more I’m at this, the more I see that what you say is absolutely true. I keep telling myself that it’s such a subjective thing & that I shouldn’t take one person’s “no” as the opinion of everyone else.

      Thanks for stopping by & posting!

      Reply

  6. marilynn larew
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 08:09:06

    I like this column. This is my favorite quotation:
    “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” ~ Thomas A. Edison

    And I never got used to roller coasters, so you have more preparation than I did. Good luck!

    Reply

  7. Alyx Morgan
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 16:52:58

    Oooh, nice quote, Marilynn.

    I never looked upon my enjoyment of roller coasters to be preparation for the ups & downs of being an author, but I can definitely see the correlation. Thank you for that perspective…& thank you for visiting. 🙂

    Reply

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