Ah, rejection. It’s one of the few words that can send chills down the spine of an aspiring writer. The thought of pouring out my heart onto a piece of paper only to have it be rejected by a stranger via form letter paralyzed me with fear. Who wants to go through that? I’m better off waiting until I can write perfectly. I’m better off waiting until I write the perfect manuscript.
But I’m never going to write perfectly and I’m never going to have the perfect manuscript. No one can. Everything about writing is purely subjective, which is why it’s so scary to me. You just have to pour your heart onto the page and trust that if your writing is meant to reach someone, it will.
Rejection comes with the territory of being a writer. Even some of the most successful writers were initially rejected. (Those publishers must be kicking themselves now!). Take a look at how many times the following authors were rejected before their debut (and ultimately wildly successful) novels were accepted for publication:
L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables): 5 times
J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series): 12 times
Stephanie Meyers (Twilight): 14 times
Stephen King (Carrie): 30 times
Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind): 38 times
Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul): 140 times!!!!!!
Being rejected was like a badge of honor. After giving myself a pep talk, I finally mustered the courage to submit something at the beginning of May. But alas, one week later, it was rejected. So I submitted something else. And once again, after one week, it was rejected. I did this four more times. All of my submissions were rejected.
So from May 4, 2015 to June 25, 2015, I’ve been rejected six times. Five times by Scary Mommy and one time by Blunt Moms. I’m not even close to the number of rejections experienced by some of the authors above, but I have to admit that it’s still disheartening.
After that first rejection back in May, I just wanted to crawl into a cave and not even tell anyone that I had even tried. I have a healthy fear of failure. I pictured everyone smirking at me and wondering who I thought I was to even try writing. I’m not a trained writer. I don’t have an MFA degree. I’m an engineer who happens to love writing. I have a lot of nerve to think that I could do this for a living.
And then I thought about it. In my life, rejections in the corporate world have always led to something better. Two examples immediately popped into my mind. I remember being crushed when I didn’t get a job at an assembly plant in 1999, only to get a better job at an assembly plant in 2002. I remember being crushed when I didn’t get the job I wanted in Volume Planning in 2001 only to get my dream job in Product Planning in 2004. With that in mind, I now realize that I should actually be grateful for rejection. It’s a blessing in disguise. Rejection helps me to stop wasting time on ill-suited endeavors and to focus on pursuing better options.
So now I’ve come around to this bizarre notion that I should actually embrace rejection. I’ll keep on writing and submitting articles. If I get rejected, oh well! At least I can say that I tried. I might even learn something that will improve my writing. It’s a lesson that I want to teach my children, but how will they learn it if I give up so quickly? I’d be setting a pretty lousy example if I just walk away from my dreams after a few rejections.
So, as part of my journey to become a writer, I will embrace my rejections by sharing them on my blog as part of “The Rejection Diaries.” Someday, when I finally break through the writing barrier to entry, this blog will be a good story for my children. The more rejections, the better the story. It will teach them to never give up. Keep on trying.