You put yourself out there, on a pedestal all lit up, alone and bare and hopeful, so hopeful. This is the scenario we as writers have to deal with daily – whether we’re sending manuscripts off to prospective agents or publishers, emailing snippets to our critique partner or simply plunging into a new draft head first – it’s all about thrusting our inner-most selves out there for the world to see and praying that it will be liked.
Today I got rejected. It wasn’t a writing-related rejection, but it was a rejection all the same. A standard email, thanks but no thanks, we wish you well, yadda, yadda, yadda. To be perfectly honest I never held out much hope for this one, but still, deep down in my secret heart was an inkling reminiscent of hope that now aches as I agonise over each word in the rejection.
The pessimistic side of me says that I never stood a chance anyway, that I wasn’t good enough and I’ll never be good enough. The realistic side of me, however, tells me that I wasn’t ready and shouldn’t feel dejected over something I knew I wouldn’t get (because really, I did know right from the start that it would be a long shot).
As with my writing, the self-doubting, pessimistic side wins out, and I allow myself to be dragged down into its dank, depressive depths. Every word of that rejection swirls around in my mind, reminding me of my lack of worth with each turn of them. I know I shouldn’t feel like this but I do. I know this is a weakness but I don’t care.
Today’s rejection has got me thinking about something that has often been in my thoughts since getting serious with my writing – how would I handle the rejection of my beloved novel if I can’t even handle a silly application rejection? I’ve always thought I would be okay with receiving a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ from a literary agent or a publisher. I’d be upset, sure, but the world would still go on the same as it had before and I wouldn’t give up just because somebody said no. Now, though, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t just drop my bundle and tear my manuscript into a million, self-hating pieces and burn them in a 44-gallon drum in the back yard.
How do you handle rejection? Is a day spent wallowing in self-pity acceptable, or do you like to get straight back on the horse right away (so to speak)?