By Cindy Sproles
Rejection. It’s not fun. I can’t think of a soul who lives for the next rejection, whether it be in our families, our jobs or our writing career.
When a child is told no, the next logical step is wailing…maybe a little kicking and screaming, then pouting and finally, life moves on. But if you’re a writer “NO” becomes stifling. Recently, I stopped at McDonalds to have lunch with my husband. I watched as a mom gently offered her child guidance on the outside playgym.
“No, Kylie. Step here.” “No, Kylie, don’t push.” No, Kylie, don’t take off your socks.” “No, Kylie, no Kylie, no Kylie.” There seemed to be no yes’s in the cards for poor Kylie. As patient as this 3-year-old’s mother was in gently correcting and guiding her daughter, I couldn’t see Kylie had any success. I’m not sure she made it up the ladder and down the slide one time. But what I did notice was that rambunctious little girl never stopped trying. For every no her mother offered, Kylie moved ahead to the next adventure. She had a few tears but within seconds, she was up and on to the next task.
I sorted through my file folder of rejection letters last week. In ten years of writing, I’ve gotten more rejections than I have finished projects. It didn’t seem quiet right but as I gleaned through the letters attached to failed works, I realized the value of hind sight.
My first work was a novel I was sure God gifted to me (sound familiar?) I woke up in the middle of the night, ideas flashing through my head, rushed into my office and grabbed sticky notes. Within minutes I’d plotted out an entire “Lord of the Rings” like kingdom. My characters were in place, the monsters were there, and the scripture I’d base it on was the armor of God.
Due diligence was my friend while over the next three months I pounded out this great story from God. When it was done, I sent it for a paid critique at the conference I’d soon attend. The critiquer, an author of over 50 books, gave me wonderful feedback. He liked the story, remarked it didn’t hold the marks of a first time writer and he introduced me to the acquisitions editor of a major publishing house who in turn…on the recommendation of my critiquer, asked for the proposal. Needless to say, I was thrilled.
Months passed and finally the mail delivered my proposal back to me with a very nice letter.
Though I see potential in this work, I cannot see that this story could stand against works such as Lord of the Rings.
Really? We all know I’m a much writer than Tolkien. Really? I was rejected and even with the criticism gently tucked between two bits of compliment, I was hurt. Even a little angry. Now, years past that work, I can look over it and see why it couldn’t stand against works like Lord of the Rings. You see…hind sight!
Rejection is never easy, but it is part of the process. To succeed we have to fail because the failure forces us to practice, learn and improve. Improvement leads to success. Now I look at my rejection letters and say, “Hail to the Rejection.” From it I’ll grow to be better. I’ve since learned, moving past is not as hard as it was in the early years. I owe that to the lessons hind sight has taught me.
Before you blow your stack over rejection letters, follow these tips to get you past the hump:
*Mourn a few days, eat chocolate and then get over it
*Pull out the suggestions along with a few writing books and study
*Write and rewrite
*Begin a new work
*Move ahead with the determination to be better at what you do
Rejections are the stairs to success. Choose to look at them with the attitude of persistence and you will climb your way to publication.