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In my previous Tough Love article – Dare To Dream, I emphasized the mind, body, and soul connection. This concept is not only important, but provides the sustenance when the inevitable rejection occurs. As members of the entertainment industry, we share the similar journey to success with actors, directors, and screenwriters. In the course of our careers, whether we measure it from our pre-published days or after our first contract, we will hear: No thank you. This story doesn’t fit our appetite. There was just something that didn’t connect for me. I didn’t feel any sparks. Loved your writing, but the story didn’t move me. You know, writing isn’t for everyone.
Rejection sucks. It never feels good. And when it happens, we want to vent, stomp, pound something.
Here’s the reality slap: Get over it!
There is no way around having our work judged. It might be a contest. It might be a proposal to an editor or agent. Also, we need to understand early on that it’s a game designed to test your persistence. A veteran author once said that it’s not necessarily talent that separates those who make it and those who don’t. Rather, it’s those who stuck it out through the ups and downs.
How many times have we heard of famous books being rejected 15 to 20 times? How many times have we heard an author struggle in one publishing house before landing a lucrative contract in another house with a supportive editor? How many times have we heard authors who were rejected by many of the industry’s agents, but after landing a contract, voila, an agent jumps on the deal?
I remember when I first joined my writing organization. I entered the chapter contest. I received an especially encouraging letter from one of the judges who happened to sign her name. Nervously, I approached her at a chapter event and told her how much I appreciated her comments. Then I asked her if she thought I had talent. Did she think I could write?
I’ll never forget her response. First she said, ‘I wouldn’t have written those things and signed my name if I didn’t like your story.’ Then she added, ‘If I told you not to write another word, would you stop?’ I didn’t have to think about it. ‘No!’ My writing is more than a conversation piece or a hobby.
As an African American woman, my heritage historically celebrated and held with distinction the story-tellers and those individuals with oratory prowess. Like my brother and sister authors, I embrace that role and all of its responsibility to carry on this legacy now in printed form. Writing and creating is akin to breathing. I don’t think about my next breath or the process of breathing, I just breathe and I can’t exist without it.
Telling stories is natural and comfortable. Some stories will connect with the editors and some won’t. But my passion won’t diminish. I don’t plan to give any rejection and those who reject me the power to strip my confidence or dream. The rejection is only a tool to help me identify any weaknesses in my writing, nothing more. It’s not the boogey man who will gobble you up or scare you silly. It’s not a bully from childhood to make your life miserable. It has a role and only you can determine how powerful that position will be. Keep things in perspective.
If entering contests helps you for the feedback, then continue. However, if you know that you crumble after reading each criticism, then take up exercising. This may sound like strange advice, but the physical exertion is a natural way to de-stress and get a healthful high. Go for a walk, instead of indulging in a pity party. Save the pity party for something really worthwhile.
Remember, the word ‘No’ only means ‘not yet.’