Mon. April 9, 2018: Positive Response to Rejection #UpbeatAuthors

Today’s #UpbeatAuthors topic is “how to deal with rejection in a positive way.”

Since the group consists of authors, and many of our supporters are fellow authors and artists, we deal with rejection often.

It doesn’t do any good to hear “it’s not personal.” Our art requires us to reveal our depths, our souls, so yes, it is personal. I have a theory on the whole myth of “it’s not personal, it’s business” is one of the reasons we’re in such a big cultural and political mess — because we’ve allowed that myth to dehumanize us.

But that’s a post for another day.

When we send in a submission and it’s rejected, it hurts. In that moment, we are not able to see that it is a blessing in disguise. It feels awful.

We’re afraid to feel bad. The moment we feel bad or uncomfortable, we hide from it, we swallow something or smoke something or do whatever we can to avoid it.

What we need to do is to face it down.

After we have our pity party, of course. I have timed pity parties, where I’m allowed to wallow. For a manuscript rejection or something like that, I give myself fifteen minutes. That doesn’t mean I won’t have twinges beyond that, but I give myself a good fifteen minute wallow.

There are, of course, bigger life issues that get more time, such as the break-up of a long-term relationship, but a manuscript gets a 15-minute wallow.

Then, I go off and do something I enjoy, something that gives me pleasure. I do not believe in “guilty pleasures.” I do not feel guilt for what gives me pleasure.

The pleasure helps even out the pain of the rejection, and then I move on from there.

When it comes to agents, editors, and publishers, I remind myself and my colleagues that it’s not finding ANY match; it’s finding the RIGHT match. You want a team who is genuinely excited by and supportive of your work. You want a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work — yes, authors and artists DESERVE to earn a living, once they’ve mastered the craft and layered on the art and the energy.

It’s kind of like dating. You don’t expect to find your soul mate the first time out. Some do, and good for them. But usually, you have to date around a bit until you find the right match.

You learn something from every rejection, once you get past that icky feeling and the blow to your self-esteem. Are there specifics? In the case of a manuscript, did you get notes that make sense on the why?

I’ve had manuscripts rejected and received notes that, at first, I, in turn, rejected. But when I got back on an even keel again, and really looked at them, I realized they were correct. I might not have followed them exactly, but they helped me build a better book.

I’ve had manuscripts rejected because I refused to make certain changes. Often, I tried to make the changes, and I knew, deep down, that it hurt the book and took the life out of it. That’s okay. The editor was right to reject it, because it didn’t fit the company’s vision. I was right not to change the book in way that I knew did not serve the work. They will contract work better suited to them; I found a publisher who loved what I was trying to do and made it better.

The important thing to remember in rejection is not to lash out immediately. Be cordial. That’s different from polite. I always warn people that when I turn “cordial” they should back away slowly and then run. Because when I’m “cordial” I am angry.

You feel what you feel. Anger, hurt, confusion. Your feelings are legitimate. It’s how you CHOOSE to ACT on them that makes a difference.

Once you’ve gotten past the first anger and hurt, dissect the rejection. Is it a situation where you can learn something and improve on it? Be it a manuscript or a behavior pattern. Sometimes, people are right to call us out on bad behavior. If we have acted in a way that causes harm to someone else, they have the right to refuse to be harmed. They have the right to reject us.

We have the right to reject someone who causes us harm, too. I often joke about “excommunicating X from my universe” — only it’s not a joke. If someone is toxic, and refuses to respect my needs, my boundaries, they are gone. If someone undermines my writing, they are gone. Doesn’t matter if they’re related to me or not. They are gone.

If I refuse to respect someone else’s boundaries and needs, they have the right to remove me from their universe, too.

If someone has wronged you or you wronged someone else, genuinely listen to what caused the pain. If it’s something you are willing to change, to make right, do so. If you’re at an impasse, be honest, part with as much dignity and kindness as you can, and move on.

For example, if someone feels “wronged” or “pained” by the amount of time I spend on my writing, that is not someone who can stay closely involved in my life. My commitment to my work, the time and passion I spend on it, is not going to change. I make time for people in my life; but I will not give up writing because someone in my life needs proof they are more important than the writing. The people who are more important know it and don’t need the proof. Therefore, they don’t try to sabotage the writing.

One-to-one scorekeeping rarely ends well for anyone, but every relationship has to have a modicum of reciprocity.

Positive response to rejection? Be cordial; be kind if possible; remove yourself from the situation until you can have a clearer, more objective perspective.

It will improve the quality of your life on many levels.

Published in: on April 9, 2018 at 5:50 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 9, 2018: Positive Response to Rejection #UpbeatAuthors  
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