Yes, I am a writer and should be more creative and dazzle you with new ways of stating the obvious, but sometimes simplicity is best.
Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t hate rejection? Asking someone out with sweaty palms and pounding heart to get a nice no, thank you but let’s be friends?
How about my poor husband who turns to me one night and asks me a leading question but I say I’m really, really tired, can I please take a raincheck?
Or my son who runs over to a small knit group on the playground who all know each other and when he tries to join them he is told he is too young for the game and he can’t play?
Let’s backtrack. I had a bad week. We all do, but I got slammed with 2 rejections from editors I believed would publish my work. One was a novel, and one was a short story. I had been studying the short story magazine for months, and wrote something simple and dazzling. Slam dunk, I thought. Then the editor asked for my full manuscript, and I KNEW I would get this sale. My book was fabulous. I was not being egotistic – writers go from one end of the spectrum to the other. Full superhero rock status to I am the worst writer in the whole world and shouldn’t even be writing a business letter. So, the rejections hit the same day (always the case, right?) and I am completely shell shocked andthe twin sibling of REJECTION now enters my world:
I must have been wrong. I probably can’t write very well. I probably do suck. Was I crazy to even think that one day I can make a career out of this and quit my day job? Or work part time and dedicate the other half to purusing my dream?
The overwhelming need to crawl into bed and sleep and then eat masses amounts of chocolate struck me so hard I trudged toward the bedroom. But stopped at the door as two demanding voices and stomping feet re-entered the hallway. “We want to go to the park!” the older one announces. The younger one, who has a bad case of hero worship and is really getting the raw end of the deal most of the time, echoes the statement. “Yeah, we want to go to the park.” “And have a picinic!” “Yeah!” “And then we want to go to Target and the library, mommy.” “Yeah!”
“But first I want juice and teddy grahams, ok mommy?” Yeah!”
Hand on the doorknob, I shook myself back to sanity and realized, I can’t go to bed. I have to go take care of my children. So I did everything they asked. Most of the day I was a bit foggy, but there were some real moments of engagement where I got out of myself and just enjoyed the moment.
Over the next few weeks, I got slammed with more news about my daytime job (As my girlfriend says – these things come in threes) so I really have been struggling to find my footing as some major life changes come hurtling my way. And thank God for having a reason to get up in the morning no matter how depressed I am – at least it keeps me moving, and that is when I really thought hard about the rejection/confusion pattern.
Writers tell other writers not to take rejection personally. And I agree, but it’s pretty hard not to when you spend day after day crafting a story and putting it lovingly out into the world to have someone who is important say they dont’ like it. Hard NOT to take it personally. Any kind of rejection is personal, and after the rejection sting fades, confusion walks right in its pathway to make you question every decision you ever made. Confusion will test your endurance and rattle your confidence and shake your soul. Because the confusion is about who you are and what you want. I have learned one important lesson in the writing world: take the lumps, feel the grief and move on. If you don’t, then you can’t be a writer. If you don’t keep trying, you will never succeed. Same thing in parenthood and in life in general. Everything feels personal, and every decision made can be questioned. People will reject you at all turns and sometimes you feel you can handle it, sometimes you can’t. On the days you can’t, just keep moving forward. One day, you will be able to resume.
I’m writing again. Quit for a while, questioned my sanity, then decided to plot along. No choice really – if I don’t, I will never get published again.
I read the most incredible book by Dean Koontz last week where a part of the novel was written by a dog. There are many more books like this nowadays, but this was written in the eighties and it was very fresh to get a piece of the world through a dog’s eyes. He was a stray, and always looking for a family. He had his fur set on fire by some horrible boys, scraped for food in alleys and garbage cans, watched many families enter and exit his life, found friends and enemies on the street, but never gave up. He kept thinking that around the next corner was his family: a warm home, a child to love, and treats to eat. That kept him alive on the streets for a long time, the belief that something better was around the corner. Of course, he finally found his dream, and I cried like he was the main character of the novel, because he was so very real.
Maybe that’s why I love romance novels so much.
You can always look around the corner and find a happy ending.