Thursday, May 19, 2016

Let's Talk Rejection

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.)

Photo from

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.


Laurie Tomlinson said...

Excellent post and so timely -- all the time. Love what you wrote about authors being rejected all the time, no matter what stage they're in. Kind of goes with Cara's post about having thick skin. I like to believe the rejections, the wrong timings, the collection of takeaways we get with each one will make our big YES all the more worthwhile!

Teresa Tysinger said...

Oh, Ashley. I can't tell you just how timely this is for me, having received my first formal rejection this week. While reading the email, I felt God impress upon my heart "Teresa, your worth does not change because of this one email." So thankful for that message in that moment. This rejection came after a somewhat lengthy "courting" of sorts and, while there are some circumstances that makes this "no" not so much about my writing but timing, it requires me to pause and reconsider the trajectory of my next steps. I'm thankful for authors like you who are willing to share honest experiences so we feel like we're no alone. Hugs!

Ashley Clark said...

Thank you, Laurie! I always thought (and still often catch myself thinking!) once I get a full-length publishing contract, everything will be easy, but that is so not the case!

Teresa, thank you for your openness sharing. I'm so sorry about your first formal rejection... there's a particular kind of sting when you really think it's going to work out, isn't there? At least, that's what I've found in my experience. Be encouraged that your writing, and you as a writer, are not defined by rejection (or success, for that matter). There are so many big things ahead. But that said, it still stinks! :(