Yesterday, I received two rejections in a matter of a few hours. Okay, so one was just a contest entry, but still. The proposal rejection was fairly... shall we say... comprehensive. :)
Rejection is something that we, as writers, don't like to talk about or think about or plan for. We'd all like to be that person who lands a three book deal with a major publishing house from just a proposal. But is that really what's best for our writing life? What if God's path for us looks different? What if He has ways for us to grow, things for us to learn, along the way?
Do you ever feel like Cory Matthews in this episode of Boy Meets World? (It's the one where Topanga convinces him to help with a petition to save a teacher's job, and when he does, he realizes it feels good to help other people... to get involved with something he otherwise would've overlooked. And then, even with--especially with-- his crazy hair, Topanga makes Boy Meets World history and kisses him for the first time.)
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Those of you who love Boy Meets World will appreciate the analogy.
Sometimes we are just not having a good hair day, and we do not feel ready to take on the world.
Sometimes, we get hard news, and our confidence is a bit shaken. Maybe even our vision.
But the reality is, we all face rejections-- small and large. You may think, "Oh, if I could only get a published, then I'd finally find my confidence." But in reality, published authors are still rejected all the time.
If you're going to be a writer, you're going to have to learn to keep company with rejection. So let's learn to keep that company well.
Here are several things I think are important to remember when it comes to rejection:
- Rejection neither defines nor reflects us. This is a hard one, I know. You poured your heart and soul into this story, so naturally, a rejection of it feels like a rejection of... well, your heart and soul. But that's not the cause. You are not defined by your ministry, whether your work is rejected, OR (perhaps even more importantly) whether it succeeds.
- Rejection is a learning opportunity. My most recent rejection was my first attempt at category romance. Thought it wasn't the right fit, through that experience I learned a lot about amping up the chemistry between my hero and heroine. You may not agree with all the reasons you were rejected, and that's fine. But look for learning opportunities.
- Rejection always stings. It just does. So give yourself permission to feel sad, and grieve the loss of what could've been. When someone close to you is rejected, send them a hug and remind them of the value in their writing. Sometimes we all need that perspective.
- Rejection sets our course toward the next best step. No one wants to hear "no." We all want to get "the call." But would you want that call if it weren't the best fit for your writing? Of course not. Rejection frees you up for the possibilities of God's working in your life, like breaking up from a just-okay relationship before your spouse comes along.
- Rejection can fuel us toward our next project. Use that frustration you feel and the honesty of your raw emotions to motivate your next WIP. Make something good out of the difficult news. Refocusing also seems to help us get our vision back.
Your turn! What have you learned from the rejections in your writing life? How do you pick yourself up and move forward?
Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.