How to Handle Rejection

Saturday 30th July

I haven’t had time to write much on here lately and I’m sure the internet aches with the loss, however I saw an article of writing lately that made me stop and quiver a little.

And not in a good way.

Those of you who lurk the halls of Twitter and roam the crowded streets of the interweb may have already seen a blog post entitled “My Latest Rejection, #319 Jennifer Johnson-Blalock” by a writer named David Benjamin.

It was a harsh piece and at times difficult to read.  Not only because it expressed an underlining level of misogyny that made me outwardly cringe but also because the author maintained a tone of smarmy superiority throughout the entire piece:

“But I don’t blame her <Jennifer> for being listless, incurious, asocial and doctrinaire.”

It was also rude and very ungraceful.

The long and the short of the thing is this; man writes book, man’s book is rejected by an agent, man then meets agent, man embarrasses himself in front of said agent, man then proceeds to go online and write a long and very disrespectful piece on agent before finally comparing himself to Mark Twain and Hemingway while bathing in a stew of his own arrogance.

“For a moment, I could almost see Hemingway perched on a stool across from sweet, chilly Jennifer – young enough to be his granddaughter and ignorant enough to be his dog – as he laboured mightily to contain his anger while struggling to convince this coldblooded ingénue, in ten minutes by the stopwatch, that The Sun Also Rises is a pretty good yarn.

Exit laughing.”

I’m sorry, but the moment you compare a young woman who is simply doing her job, to a dog, you have lost any sympathy that you may have otherwise garnered.

This “gentleman” criticised Jennifer in every way, right down to her physical appearance to the way she dressed – neither of which he would have minded, I’m sure, had she actually given him what he wanted.

This is not the way to handle rejection.

Rejection is, a fact of life.  We face it in every aspect of life.  We face it in relationships(familial or romantic), we face it in academia and on the career ladder.  No matter which path you go down there is a good chance that rejection will wave hello to you at some point.

If you are an artist of any sort  you need to learn how to handle it.  Because rejection comes with the territory my friend.

I knew this, I knew this when I clicked send on my submissions to agents a little over three weeks ago.  I am not surprised by the two rejections that are currently sitting in my email inbox.  Saddened?  Yes.  Surprised?  Not even a little bit.

Agents accept and reject different authors for different reasons, maybe you’re style of writing didn’t work for them, maybe they’re not taking much on at the moment and are holding out for something that they consider really special, maybe they already signed up a piece of work that is quite similar to yours, or maybe – just maybe – you’re just not good enough.

Not yet, anyway.

With every rejection there is a chance to grow, a chance to re-evaluate your work and look a little deeper at what you can do better.  Maybe start a new project, get out the notepads and pens and start writing something different, something out of your comfort zone.  Challenge yourself Goddamn it!

Yes it is frustrating, yes you may cry but you know what?  At least you were a frickin’ adult about it. You do not, throw your toys out of the pram like the world’s largest man-baby and cry foul at the top of your lungs.

This is the world, this is how it works, if you can’t handle rejection then maybe you should put your pen down and consider a career in gardening.

So what do we do with rejection?   We accept it, we learn from it and we turn it into art.

Best wishes guys and gals,

Rachel x

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