Rejection and Resilience


What interested me the most about the rejections that authors received from publishers and agents, beside the types of letters, and diversity of the language in the negative responses (some very positive, also), was the reaction of the author. I know when my reject slips started flooding in, I felt angry, defensive, bewildered, and sometimes indignant (usually not all at the same time). I worked hard to keep my spirits up, and push through a bit of despair to send my stories to the next publisher, hopeful of an acceptance.

We’re resilient. We’ve bended, adapted, shifted, sometimes in ways we never thought we could. I most certainly did not handle all my rejections effectively. I cursed out several agents (the one who sent the fortune cookie size response). I even wrote to one agent and told her how rude she was in her rejection letter, and would suggest no one hire her—since we do have to pay them for services.

Anyway, the resilient person, moi, does not always, to this day, handle refusal of my work well. However, the strength, I believe, is in the ability to rebound. According to Robert Brooks, Ph.D, there are four concepts that help people when confronted with rejection. All four have been touched upon in The Ladykillers Blog this week at one point or other. I’m just putting them all together.

  1. Avoid self-defeating assumption. Rejections do not indicate a basic flaw in our personality.
  2. Don’t magnify the rejection in terms of the impact it has on your life. It is not a forecast of your future. After about 75 rejection slips, I sorta had a hard time believing this one.
  3. Don’t allow the rejection to derail your dreams. Persevere.
  4. Learn from the rejection, even if there is no suggestion for change. Seek helpful feedback from others.
  5. (Mine) reevaluate the agents and publishers, the people you are hoping to win over–they my not be right for you. I’ve had to change my list several times.

Can you add to this list? What has helped you stay resilient? Cat buddies that purr on your lap are acceptable.

Breaking Away from the Rules

Sedona and other 207

Sedona, AZ–Pat Morin

Like in nature, rules are constantly broken. You can have rain, and sun, and clouds, and thunder storms, all at one time.

I, as the novice writer, don’t even know all the rules I’ve broken. But I have read many books on the art of writing, and have learned we need rules to free us from the onslaught of those unending waterfall of images and thoughts, and runaway mental scenes that go on and on, and then split into other scenes until the first scene is forgotten. Sometimes I say to myself: Put a period on that run-on thought, will ya?

I can do that more easily than I do in my everyday life. The escape of writing and being in that made-up world with its many rules is more freeing than having to deal with the stresses of everyday life. I cherish being in that rule-filled world.

It’s okay to break the rules of my dieting (more than breaking the rules of my writing), sometimes I break the rule of calling a family member, like should I every-single-day. Sometimes I break the rule of not giving the ultimate review about a fellow author (because I have to run my dog to the vet), and I haven’t read all the books I should for fellow writer (because I have all those test I have to take at Kaiser, my insurance co.).

I have to break the pattern of breaking the rules so I can get on track for, at least, a little while. It’s my mid-year-goal rule. Try to get the imagined-world rules at least a bit closer to the real-world rules.

Pep Talks: We All Need Them

Every writer needs a good pep talk from time to time. Writing as a business tends to be rife with negative feedback, whether it’s a string of rejection letters from literary agents or a bad review from an unhappy reader. Since sitting at a computer all day is such a solitary activity, it’s easy to let all that negativity pull you into the dark corner where all your insecurities lie, that place where you convince yourself that you don’t even have enough talent to write a proper grocery list. That’s why those pep talks are so crucial. Staci McLaughlin

Another writer, Priscilla Royal wrote: Most writers are fragile sorts. Some may come across as arrogant, others painfully shy, and many in between. But when it comes to that public reception of that beloved creature which has burst forth from our fevered brain, we all very nervous. That is when pep talks are needed. I thought a lot about these two statements this week and changed their words a bit to include all of us, writers, readers, humans, non-humans, the whole lot of what inhabits the earth.

I would change Staci’s wise words to: Every person, no matter who they are, needs a good pep talk from time to time. Life is rife with negative feedback, whether it’s a string of complaints from loved ones, or an unhappy co-worker or worse, a boss. It’s easy to let the negative pull you into a dark corner where all your insecurities lie (and every nook and cranny where light never shines), that place where you convince yourself (and have for many years believed) that you can’t even get it together to write a proper grocery list. That’s when, as Staci reminds us, you need a pep talk.

I would change Priscilla’s wise words to: Most humans are fragile sorts. Some of us may come across as arrogant, others painfully shy, and many in between. But when it come to that public reception of any work or words that have burst forth from our fevered brains, that is when many of us are bundles of nerves … some about to unravel. That’s when we need the pep talks.

Where do the pep talks come from? Mainly, ourselves. Ann Parker posted a video showing a five-year-old girl talking into a mirror, cheering herself on, reminding herself of all that she had going for her, including her house, her PJ’s, and sister. Heartwarming. Reaffirming. Reminding us to be our own cheerleaders and to move on toward our desires, over mounds of self-doubt, by remembering the little things that made us feel worthwhile, and important.

The Best April Fool’s Day

I looked up the history of April Fool’s Day, and decided to share a shortened version for you:

The history of April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day is uncertain, but the current thinking is that it began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year’s Day was moved from March 25 – April 1 (new year’s week) to January 1. Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1. These people were labeled “fools” by the general populace, were subject to ridicule and sent on “fool errands,” sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a “poisson d’avril” or “April fish” because a young naive fish is easily caught.

My husband is a prankster. He has a fun-loving nature and a soft heart. Twenty-three years ago, on April 1, he Sedona 037took me out to dinner at the Turning Point Restaurant in Piermont, NY. During dinner he asked me to marry him, smack dab in the middle of me chewing food, in a tone that I liken to discussing the weather. Now, the back story is that he had asked me before and I had said no. (He had asked four months after we dated, and we Capricorns are slow, cautious spirits that don’t move that quickly.) I nodded yes before I had swallowed my food, eyes widened. How utterly romantic. ;) . Then he added, Larry being Larry. “If you said no, I was just going to say: April Fools-ha-ha.” He had it planned, ring and all.