I am a perfectionist in many things – which is bad, especially when it comes to putting words I have put my heart into out into the world. Having your work picked apart and dealing with all of the potential rejection is, to say the least, frightening.
I have been doing a LOT of research the past few weeks, trying to get a perspective of where I want to go with this and coming up with a plan of action. In doing so, I came across an article from Lit Hub that struck a cord with me, changing the way I looked at all of the rejection letters that are inevitably going to come my way.
The writer, Kim Liao, explains how she was talking with a fellow writer about her successes. Her friend had an impressive resume that included several residencies. Just how in the world can someone have so much inexplicable success?
Instead of fearing rejection as we all do (who in this world does not possess an ego of some sort!), we should embrace the rejections as they come. Learn from them. Look at them as chances to improve. Seek them out, even. The worst rejections will always be when nothing can be gained from them, as when nothing is heard back at all. Sure, this will happen, and there will be many times when rejection comes in a form letter that hundreds, if not thousands before us, have received.
But that is ok. Even in these, we learn. We learn that we must not take every rejection as a personal affront. We learn that we need to do our research better when choosing what material to submit to what publisher or agent. We learn that our skin is actually thicker than we thought. We learn perseverance. We learn that with each rejection, we are closer to the approval we desperately seek.
Luckily we live in an age where rejection does not cost as much, and we likewise do not have to wait as long for it. Gone are the days where every article and manuscript had to be placed in a self-addressed stamped envelope, then placed in a manila envelope further plastered with more costly stamps. Yes, there are some publications that still require this, but by and large, most accept submissions on their site. Some even require reading fees. Nonetheless, it is easier and more cost-efficient than ever to get our work out there and into the hands of those who will either reject or accept us and our words.
With this advance, we are not going to get as many material rejection letters that we can collect in what I call a pride file. This will not deter me from saving the ones I do receive, however, whether they come in digitally or physically. Printers are a beautiful thing, and I can print out my rejection emails to save in my file right along with those.
You may wonder why I consider this a ‘pride file’ since it will be filled with nothing but denials. Well, the more I have in the pride file, the more work I have put out there. With every rejection, I am that much closer to being published. Instead of giving myself a goal of how many pieces I get in print throughout the year, I have decided I am going to aim for rejections, instead.
And I am aiming for 100.
Care to join me? Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from pursuing your goals. Whether you are a writer, illustrator, painter, singer, sculptor, or even a whittler – whatever passion you have that burns inside of you every day, start sharing it with the world. Stop looking at rejection as a personal tragedy. Take it with aplomb, learn from it, refine your methods, and know that each one brings you closer to the success you desire.