Monday, August 17, 2009

Rejection Is Not A Four Letter Word

There is a reason most people don’t go for their dreams. It’s called rejection. The words that first come to mind for me when describing rejection are not words I would write here. On line or on air, they would be a series of four letter words. Something like this. !!##**@//\\/#!!! But you get my drift?

It’s not pleasant. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. It serves only to make one question. Am I doing the right thing? Is this really what I want? Am I really good enough? There are easier ways to make a living.

But I’ve already gone that route. And easy doesn’t make happy.

Yes, in case you haven’t figured it out already I got another rejection on my first novel last week.

Rejection is not a four letter word. It is part of the process. I get that. In my twenty five years of corporate life, selling those snippets of air on radio and television stations I learned how to deal with the dreaded NO, WE don’t want what YOU have. It toughens your skin. You learn how to bounce back quickly, because really, there is no other choice.

But rejection is different when you are a writer than when you are a salesperson. It’s easier when the product being rejected is some inanimate object of nothingness like air time and not something you have created that contains part of your heart and soul.

As a salesperson I knew exactly what to do when someone said they didn’t want to buy my station. I asked the reasons why, got a sense of what I might do differently next time and dialed another number on my list of prospects. But as a writer you don’t have that much control. The industry has been so designed that your agent is the person who does that for you. It leaves me feeling a bit helpless with the only constructive thing left to do, to keep writing.

But I never keep writing when I get news of a rejection. I have to wallow for a bit. Rant. Rave. Question. My head, for those moments, is out of the lives of my characters and into my own.

This time I gave myself the entire afternoon. I had been up since 4:30AM and writing for over three hours before I found out. So I called it a day and went to a movie. I chose Julie and Julia. Pretty apropos, huh?

The thing I am learning about rejection is that my years of selling prepared me well and have given me an advantage in dealing with it that many writers don’t have. The latest rejection stopped me from writing only momentarily, long enough to dwell in my disappointment and see an inspiring movie. This one reminded me that selling a novel is a lot like finding true love. It can involve a lot of rejection, it’s a matter of personal taste, timing is everything but in one split second it all connects and your world is forever turned around.
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