I got a rejection last week.
So what? You may exclaim. I am a writer after all and it’s part and parcel of the craft. Writers get rejected, all the time. And learning to cope with it, turning the negative into a positive, is all part of the process. You may be asking yourself if it was my first rejection. Actually it wasn’t and I am well versed in dealing with how it feels to be told that ‘Actually it’s a no’. In fact in the past I have been mildly annoyed for a couple of hours and then quickly moved on. Even when a literary magazine editor replied with a curt ‘Thanks but I think we’ll pass’! As a writer you learn to grow thicker skin. I’m talking alligator thick.
So imagine my own surprise when I took the latest rejection quite badly. The 5 stages of grief that can be associated with dealing with rejection, well I felt them all, deeply. I took it personally, I shouldn’t have I know. The main reason for my ridiculous attitude towards the rejection I can only surmise was due to the nature of the contest. Writers submitted to the site and then anyone with a logon could go in read and comment on any story they liked. The whole point was to be constructive and helpful to fellow writers. With that in mind, I’d read a few of the pieces on the site and had inevitably drawn my own conclusion about my ‘skill’ level compared to the ‘competition’. Don’t get me wrong I am not arrogant, at least I didn’t think I was, but that contest brought something out of me, something ugly. Had it been a normal submission process, when the only people to read the submissions are the editors, then I would’ve accepted my rejection with more grace, albeit it with my usual shake of the head and the ‘Oh well, their loss’ mantra running through my head. But this time I was incredulous. Then I was convinced they’d made a mistake. They must have, my work was much better than that of a lot of the writers they had shortlisted. I even went on to thinking the contest was ‘fixed’ and they were totally unworthy of my work. The fools.
But then I realised something. It doesn’t matter. I was never going to make it big, I wasn’t going to change the way the world looked at script-writing. It was my first go at script writing for goodness sake!
What was important however, was going through the process and that I gave it a go. I learnt a LOT from other writers’ comments and advice. So OK, my script didn’t even get through the initial sift, but you know what they say: ‘what doesn’t break you, makes you stronger.’
The pain of rejection will never lessen, but how you cope with it, how you use that rejection to feed your determination to eventually succeed, is what essentially makes you a good writer.