I wish I could say that I was as confident and forward as CJ, but I’m not. Otherwise, I’d have been more widely published sooner.
The truth is: rejection pisses me off. And when I get pissed off at something or somebody, I tend to ignore it or him/her, sometimes to my own detriment.
Then, that rejection can get into my head and make me not want to try. Yeah, it’s a weak excuse for not doing things, but I’ve let it hamper me off and on for years now.
I guess that puts me somewhere in between the multitudes who want to publish but never even try and those who try but constantly get rejected.
So, I have to tell myself every day that getting rejected is no big thing. If my story doesn’t get picked up, what really has changed? I’ll still be unpublished. It’s not like I’m a free agent who needs to get the contract to put food on the table, even if it’s with some really crummy team from New Jersey.
I think a good example of rejection pissing me off is Writing.com. I have offered average, good and great reviews and ratings to authors. As a courtesy, I’ll offer writing tips, suggestions and ideas to people who rate only 2 out of 5 stars. I’ll even toss in lots of gift points as encouragement to lessen the sting if I have to give a bad review.
On the other hand, when I get a bad review, I go ballistic. I keep thinking that, at this point in my writing career, my stuff should at least be worth 3 out of 5 stars. And if I’ve been getting 4, 4.5 or 5 for the story and some chap gives me one or two stars, I’m ready to fire off a mean-spirited reply.
Fortunately, a cooler head prevails and I remember advice of long ago to let bad things slide and take things with a grain of salt (which might explain my salt consumption problem). I know there are people – readers and writers – out there who feel the same way. Otherwise, who is buying those Stress posters -- you know, the ones that talk about the confusion created when the mind overrides the body's basic desire to choke the living crap out of some bastard who desperately deserves it?
I have learned to take the bad reviews and rejections as confidence builders. If I can weather some hack who thinks my story sucks, then I can handle the pros who think my story sucks.
I also use Uber Jerk as a model, something to remind me to avoid getting a big ego.
Uber Jerk was a guy on WDC who I gave a rating of 3 out of 5. He sent me a reply telling me that I was “a worthless piece of s—t, who doesn’t know anything about what a real writer is and will never ever be good enough to even get a letter-to-the-editor published.” He said that he was “a published writer now” and that he didn’t need to listen to guys like me. He then said to never ever read any of his stuff again, because I wasn’t “worthy of reading a published writer like himself.”
At first I wanted to rip his head off until I realized that it was impossible without help from Wes Craven. So, I let it slide and now his rant gives me a laugh or two, along with a moment to reflect. I mean, he really was the ultimate rejection of something I'd done. I can’t imagine an editor being that rude or stuck up, especially one who had gotten one thing published and now considered himself to be superior to everyone else on WDC.
I have learned to remain realistic. I know that I’m not going to get some ridiculously big fat book deal right off the bat (like I’m some literary version of David Beckham). It's unrealistic, like watching Jude Law as a Russian sniper with a British accent in Enemy At the Gates or Kevin Costner with an American AND English accent in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.
Anyway, I also have to remember the market and make sure I take a good look at the smaller publishers, along with the big boys (and girls). That can lesson the chances of rejection.
Thus, I have been looking more at publishers like Leucrota and others who accept lots of manuscripts from unpublished authors. I have gotten rejection letters from them, but they have been kind enough to tell me exactly what they were looking for and what I was lacking, such as when Leucrota took a look at my first try with Land of the Blind.
So, what does it all mean? Let the rejections slide off your back. Think of it like life. If you think about it, you’ve been rejected all of your life. When someone else got the job you wanted. Or the girl. Or the guy. Or even the last parking spot close to the mall on Christmas Eve.
Think of rejection like that and you’ll be ignoring it so well and moving on to the next thing that you won’t even worry about it at all.
Maybe one day, I'll actually follow that advice to the letter.