Rejection is sadly part of the course for purveyors of the written word and at times can leave one decidedly horizontal. Trust me, I have been there! Times when I wanted to heave up, yell and weep as my world collapsed about me. Yet I am always minded that it’s not whether you get knocked down, but whether you get back up. We all take a sucker punch at some point in our lives. It’s not a matter of if it happens to you, rather a matter of when.
As writers, we knowingly place ourselves in a position where we will undoubtedly face more rejection than the average person and it seems to me that how we handle that part of the creative process is often key to our success.
If rejection leads us to give up too quickly, we will never get where we want to go. If we allow ourselves to take it personally, we will invariably wind up feeling angry and resentful. It is a path well worn by many of the true giants of our calling and we should never lose sight of that. Even Hemingway knew the bitter sting of rejection, from his earliest days as a writer, with many of his initial attempts at fiction derided and thought unworthy of publication. Had he given up we would never have known those wondrous words that grace the pages of The Old Man And The Sea or For Whom The Bell Tolls.
Cut it any way you want but when we are rejected the psyche is wounded threatening our sense of likeability, capability and worthiness, but to survive and grow as writers we need to learn that rejection is but a temporary defeat, not a permanent one. Learn to see it as a positive part of the creative process and it will concentrate the mind and show the world that you have the resilience to fight for what you want, to be uniquely you. Let rejection make you more determined to prove your abilities, heighten your competitive spirit and be an incentive to prove people wrong.
I’m not saying you have to like it. I don’t like rejection, setback or adversity any more than anyone else but over time I have conditioned myself to realise the opportunities it brings. To see it as a sign that I am finally living the life I wanted and pushing myself through the biases of my past. It isn’t always easy but when I find my resolve wavering, which it does, I look to the words of William Shed – “ A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”
So let me ask you, how far will you sail?