You’ve got to take the good with the bad. After all, even Steven King was rejected — lots — before Carrie was accepted for publication. I just have to keep that in mind. I sold two more stories — yea — but received some rejections — boo. When you think about it, being a writer is probably only second to being an actor for assaults on the ego. Both have have the same advice given by well-meaning friends and mentors: Be true to yourself and your brand and someday you’ll get there. I have a question about that though: what if you’re terrible? What if you don’t have the talent? We’ve all seen actors onscreen or stage who have NO business being there. We’ve all read books that we thought, “How on earth did this get published?” But we’re told to be honest, be true and you’ll get there.
I think sometimes that I would be an awful man. I don’t take rejections well. What if I had to go out and ask some hot girl to go out with me? I’d probably be the 50 year-old still living with Mom. It takes courage to put yourself out there and risk rejection. Whether you are a man, actor, or writer, rejection hurts. Remember when you were a little kid and you were picked — grudgingly — for the dodge ball team just because you were the last man to be picked? Remember when you didn’t get as many Valentines as the other kids? Remember when your best friend suddenly decided to drop you for someone else? Insert almost anything in the last one: your boss picked some new hire over you; you husband left you for some younger model; you lost out being Prom Queen or King? Ouch. Life hurts.
But life is good too. If we don’t endure the bad, how can we appreciate the good? I am a dessert fiend and my father used to tell me — when I’d grumble about how I hated vegetables and all I wanted was brownies for dinner — how would I know how good brownies were if I didn’t have to eat the veggies. I guess that made sense in a twisted way but yeah…you have to take the good with the bad and then when you get the good — yea!!
So, I’ll go on taking the rejections. (as if I could do anything else) They are prompts to encourage me to be a better writer. I’ll go on reading other peoples’ books so that I can know what true, expressive, and powerful writing is and also, with other books, to know what does not work so that I can avoid it in my writing.
My daughter brought home a miniature rose bush the other day. It’s beautiful and unique, but it will someday lose its blooms and the leaves will fall. It may look like a desiccated stick. With care, however, it can bloom again. That’s what we, as writers, have to be able to do. My roses may fall, editors may walk all over them as they lie limply on the ground, but I will bloom again and again and again and, in the end, my stories, my roses, will thrive.