“I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, “To hell with you.”-Saul Bellow
I did not receive a pre-holiday rejection this past year; this particular publication was kind enough to wait until the second of January. If you cannot wrap an acceptance in shiny paper and bows, I am grateful to be turned down after the champagne and cookies have done their celebratory best.
What was more unusual to me was the discovery, via Facebook, that a few of my writing colleagues also received the same rejection from the same publication on the same day.
We did not conspire to submit simultaneously, nor did we discuss the matter of submissions at all. It just happened that we took a similar initiative at a congruent time. Then we were turned down. Together.
How happy to be in such good company.
This accident of coincidence taught me a new thing about rejections. Each of the writers who were declined are writers whose craft I greatly admire. They are writers with far more credits than I. Writers with MFAs and classes to teach. Writers who write and have written well.
What kind of jealous, heartless moron would get their jollies from another writer’s rejection slips? Oh, how selfish am I. But wait! There’s more.
As I watch the great writers of my generation build houses of words and novels of dreams, I walk among them learning from their grace and fervor. I know these few who shared a similar heartbreak on the second day of a new year are continuing an ardent quest to reach their own personal goals, be that a contract with a major publishing house or a slice of flash fiction tucked in a monthly.
I know too that the editors and slush pile readers who read and declined our essays were not looking at our names and laughing with big, evil grins, but were sorting and choosing, paring down, moving on.
And so it is in this new year that I am choosing to look at the inevitability of rejection slips as an impersonal formality. It ain’t always easy, kid, but if you don’t do it, you ain’t Hollywood either.
Your turn: How do you take rejection? And for that matter, how do you take success?