You can’t be a published writer if you’re afraid of rejection because rejection is inevitable. You can still be a writer, scratching or typing away with no intentions of revealing your secret love to anyone, but you’re very unlikely to have your first or second (or tenth) submission of a piece published without it being rejected by someone. For some people, this fear is paralyzing, as it was for me over many years of writing. Learning to swallow it was not an overnight victory. It took years of almost-submitting a few stories before I finally took the leap, and it’s only minutely easier every time I submit something now. Sometimes thinking of future regret you’ll experience can have great impact on the choices you make in the present. I knew I had to try, and it still took heaps of encouragement from friends and family along with a desire to set a good example for my son to apply to his own goals.
I’ve read a fair amount about the constructive aspects of rejection, how it desensitizes one to the process. I’ve found, so far anyway, that rejection stings about the same every time. The rationalization only occurs later, and it can be made easier by the accompaniment of honestly constructive criticism. I always welcome suggestions for improvement, though sometimes it takes me a day or two to really appreciate them. I don’t know too many writers who want to continue churning out lackluster prose, but we’re normally too emotionally attached to our work to view it objectively, at least until someone we trust offers an opinion.
Many articles I’ve read on the subject like to point out the number of rejections that were received by famous and prolific authors. On one hand, this is a salve for the ego. Then I wonder how many rejections I might have to receive, comparing my writing to those masterful wordsmiths. Certainly every reader’s preferences are different, but how many submissions must be made until there’s a statistical probability one will cross the desk (or monitor) of a publisher who will love it? I think the standard answer to that is “as many as it takes”.
Recently I read an article that encouraged widening the pool of possible critics, completely at odds with my youthful philosophy of keeping my writing safely private. It makes sense that a wider audience, one encouraged to comment and critique, would only open myself to more rejections. But I also stand to glean far more helpful criticism and perhaps thicken my skin to negativity. I’ll get calluses on my ego until eventually my sensitivity no longer affects my decisions to reach higher and higher for my goals. Better yet, I hope I’ll be more likely to weaken my attachment to my fiction, so I can edit more objectively. In turn, this may lead to fewer rejections as my finished drafts improve.
Would you like to give me a hand by offering some criticism of my blog entries? Please leave me some comments. No need to be gentle. Give me some tough love. I have a story that needs your brutally honest criticism here: An End to Hiding. For those of you who’ve already given me some helpful feedback, you have my heartfelt appreciation.