Today, I want to talk about rejection. No, not a romantic rejection but one on your writing. In my workshop group today, they announced the winners of one of writing contest. Alas, I did not win. This was probably due to the fact that I did not enter. I meant to enter but I got busy and didn’t.
Someone was wondering at the fairness of the contest, the fairness of the judges etc… And I have no problem with them questioning the system. Questions are how you get answers even if those answers taste like moldy cheese.
But the truth is, as a writer, you will get rejected. Repeatedly. Last year alone, I had forty-eight, yes forty-eight, separate rejections of my poetry and short stories. There are days when I wonder if I’m wasting my time. There are days when I think I’m the suckiest writer on the Earth (don’t you love it when I use classy words like suckiest?).
Yet on some level, I know that’s not true. I’m not the best writer in the world. I’ve read that person’s book and I cannot write they way they do. That’s okay. I write like me and not them. Which is good because I’d look silly wearing their underwear and living their life.
Each day I work at my writing, I become a better at it. I don’t stink like sweaty feet in the jungle but I won’t win the Nobel Prize in Literature either. I’m learning to be accept that.
I’m okay with being rejected because it means I put myself out there. I didn’t give up even when I really, really wanted to. I have the forty-eight rejections to prove it.
Writing is one of those professions where being rejected is part of the job. You will get rejected, shredded, criticized, and edited. But you’ll also inspire, titillate, interest, educate, and entertain a hundred others. Writing is not a win or lose proposition but rather a win AND lose proposition.
And it’s not all tragedy. Sometimes you win. I’ve had five poems published on other years, just not this year. To me, this balances out the year of rejections.
As for critics, everyone needs a critic. A critic is your worst enemy and best friend.
A critic will tell you when you have run-on sentences, a faulty story arc, or if your rhymes are purile. A good critic will also tell you when your imagery is inspired, your words touching, and your meter is lyrical.
A good critic sees you writing in all it’s glorious excellence and flaws.
You need criticism because rejection is how you learn as a writer.
If you can’t stand to lose then don’t be a writer or a professional sports player, you’ll just end up miserable.
And who likes that? Not me.
When I get rejected, I feel bad and pout for ten minutes. I then print the rejection out and put it in my collection of such letters. Every piece of paper in that box is proof that I am a writer, that I am submitting, that I’m trying.
If you are a writer who never shares your writing, who never has readers, who never sends in to contests or magazines then what’s the point? A diary is a collection of your personal thoughts for yourself. A poem, short story, or novel is meant to be shared.
Be a writer, get rejected.