Tag Archives: Rejection

In Need Of Some Spirit Glue

Well, that was a spirit breaker.

I don’t know if you dudes have noticed, but I’m a bit of a writer. (Perhaps you’ve heard of a little thing called A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook?)

Having worked as a newspaper reporter for the first part of my professional career, I equate writing with getting paid. I’m also a bit old so I’m a bit of a traditionalist. That means I want to sell my stories and books to an actual publisher (like Barry and I did with A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook) and get paid for it that way. I’m not all that into self publishing, although I do see it as a perfectly valid form of expression. It’s just not for me right now.

Because of that, I can’t just write something and toss it out to the public. I have to sell my work to someone in a publishing house, which means I face a lot of rejection. Seriously, dudes, I’m talking a lot of rejection.

Heck, compared to the writing career, my success with the ladies in high school and college was legen. . . . dary. That’s the level of rejection I and most writers tend to get from the traditional publishers.

Lately, however, I’ve been feeling pretty good. My critique group seems to like the book I’m working on with them. I managed to crank out a good-sized YA book in a couple of weeks and actually liked the result. I’m halfway through a middle grades book and also feeling good about it.

However, on Tuesday evening, I received an email from one of the larger publishers telling me, in essence, thanks but no thanks. What’s different about this one is that I was able to get my book directly into the hands of someone who works there, who, in turn, gave it to an editor.

Being rejected this time feels a bit more . . . solid.

In my brain, I understand this rejection is no different from any other. I know in my brain that not every story is for every person and I only need to find the right agent or publisher and they’ll love my work.

But, just for now, I’m feeling a bit like I’ve been wasting my time trying to write. That what I’ve just produced won’t be read by anyone but me. That I’m not going to succeed, by any definition of success that means anything.

Please, understand I’m not looking for sympathy. I’ll probably get over it.

My issue right now is that I’m pretty open with my young dudes. They knew that I was submitting a book to this big publisher. I’m going to tell them I got rejected, but I also want them to see me taking it in stride.

I have to set the right kind of example. I need them to internalize the idea that one setback (or 12 setbacks) isn’t enough to make them quit. Will never make them quit. I need them to know that the only thing that can make them quit is inside them already and they have control over that.

But, right now. . . It’s hard to set that sort of example. Knowing you’re good enough to succeed is a bit easier than finding the folks who will agree with you and can help you achieve that.

So I think I’m going to take a bit of a breather, get myself together before telling them about this rejection. I need to get my head in the right place so they can see I remain hard at work, that I’m not going to let this minor roadblock stop me. That I fell, but only so that I could learn to get back up.

After all, Tempus sanat omnia vulnera.

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You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance. –  Ray Bradbury. Ole Ray was a smart dude. (Although he’d probably evicerate me if he heard himself described as a dude.)  If you don’t know him, he’s one of the founding fathers of modern science fiction, as well as the person who invented the communications satellite. All in all, as I said, a smart dude. I think he’s got some good stuff to say about rejection. And I should know.

See, when I found out that I was not going to be a shrink (long story), I decided to put all those science credits to work lining the garbage cans in my house. I switched over to journalism. Now, in journalism, you get told you’re an idiot — in so many words — at least 10 times a day. Either you’re getting yelled at by a source or your editor tells you that your story makes no sense.

You’ve heard of thick skin? A resistance to injury from harsh words, yeah? Well, a career in journalism gives you thick skin, thick organs and thick heads. If only it gave you thick hair as well, but you can’t get everything. Now, after years of getting my work rejected, I can stand there and listen to someone tear down my work (on those rare occasions when I’m not immediately hailed as a conquering god, come to set straight those mortals living in error) without getting the least bit mad. Oh, I might get a little disappointed that they can’t see genius when it’s dangling under their nose like a runny booger, but that’s about it.

And that’s a good thing. But it’s also something that a lot of little dudes are going without as they go through their lives. Schools are looking to cushion any rejection by smothering it with so many nice words it’d choke a horse. Little dudes and dudettes need to understand that, as they go through their lives, they are going to get rejected. They will lose that all-important competition and if they don’t know how to deal with it, how to pick themselves back up off the canvas. . . Well, they’re going to be in for some long nights and a lot of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as compensation.

While there will be bosses or supervisors who are out to get you, most of the time you’re going to be going up against someone who wants to get the job done, but doesn’t like the way you tried to do it. If you start taking it personally, you’re going to be in for a world of hurt.

That’s why I love that expression like water off a duck’s back. Let it roll off you. Take what you need from rejection and use it to make sure you don’t get rejected again.

— Richard

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