While rejection can and is frustrating and upsetting, it is a place to start. If you are lucky enough to have someone give you a reason as to why you are being rejected, all the better. No one does anything right the first try unless they are a savant. When you are learning to crawl it takes several attempts of trying to hold yourself up in a crawling position followed by days or weeks of only rocking back and forth until you take flight. This is no different than any other task you try to learn. The key? Never give up! Keep trying, keep pushing, keep going!
I remember as a child I loved hearing stories. It didn’t matter the subject or who was telling it. I was engrossed in the fantasy of being in a different time or place and all of the possibilities that may hold. If I could read, write, and spell I’m positive I’d have been writing as soon as I could speak. I wasn’t so lucky. I couldn’t wait to start school with other kids my age. I couldn’t wait to learn all my little mind would allow. I needed to grow and experience the world outside of my little 2 bedroom apartment with only a mother and brother to keep me entertained.
School was an exciting experience quickly followed by frustration and disappointment. Learning anything proved much more difficult that I had expected. The enjoyment wasn’t there when I quickly experienced peer pressure and comparison. Measuring up to how the other kids around me was not what it was cut out to be. I was far from top of my class in anything I tried. I was a less than average student and soon I would learn that reading and writing would be that much if not more challenging than the rest.
The letters all looked the same to me: foreign, difficult, and a reminder of failure that I had not experienced until then. Torment from my peers and continued revision and chastising from my teachers were more than I could bear. Tears often followed by mocking of my peers and dissatisfaction from my instructor made things that much worse. I began having anxiety about going to school and facing those cruel individuals within. You would think I’d have given up and become one of the thousands who grew up illiterate. This was not the case. You could think that I’d do the absolute opposite and charge my motivation with their cruelty. That wasn’t true either. I struggled along in frustration and embarrassment.
It took me a few years of school to finally get the hang of writing and reading. It was far from easy and though I may have wanted to, I never gave up. Each no was a way to learn how to get a YES. I hated reading and despised writing. I couldn’t hold a pencil properly, I often tore the paper trying to hold it still, and the letters were difficult to master. Soon this would be amplified by having to recite anything that I may have written or an assignment being shared among the class. I still can’t stand reading in front of others and often stumble on my words.
With all of the above, I continued on. Not in an excited way nor with any motivation to improve. I did continue though having no idea that one day I would be reading and, imagine, writing. The two things I hated most in school. I didn’t enter the school on my very first day, pick up a pencil, and start writing best seller stories. I didn’t pick up any number of classic children’s books and recite the story to a group of attentive kindergarteners. I did absolutely nothing of the sort.
Though I had no real motivation to continue to try to learn these things I did not give up. Not because it was expected of me. Not because of comparison to other students my age. Not even to prevent the discipline that would follow first from my teacher then again at home. Nope none of that was motivation to continue. See even at an early age, whether I realized it or not, I knew that I couldn’t learn it all in a day. I wanted to tell stories and share the stories I already knew. The only way to do that was to learn to read and write.
Every rejection of my attempts at doing either were a step closer to the almighty approval. Not approval of mother or teacher, not even approval of peers, but approval of myself. Feeling less than can be devastating. This is something we learn early in our academic lives. Today that approval has not ended. I still seek approval from peers, family, instructors, and of course fans/publishers. You can’t make it in this business without that approval. This is where the need for rejection comes in.
With each rejection I learn a little more about myself and where I can make improvements. This is true not only in your work but in your life. What is the purpose of life if not to continue to better ourselves. If we never received disapproval and rejection we would NEVER advance and better ourselves. Can you imagine if I had gone to school and struggled with my writing with the response ‘this is incredible’? Where would I be now? Do you think I’d be able to read and write? Of course not. I’d have no reason to continue to practice. I’d have no reason to learn new methods. I’d have no reason to grow.
When a boss, or in my case an agent or publisher, tells you to change something it has nothing to do with their personal opinion. It is simply they want the job done better. I may do something that I believe is perfect whether it be writing, cooking, cleaning, painting or anything else I have to put my mind to and I will not believe it’s anything but perfect if someone doesn’t say otherwise. I would have no reason to attempt to improve on it if no one tells me it could be better. I mean why would I? If I believe it’s perfect why mess with perfection.
Having someone on the outside pushing for better is really all a rejection is. You won’t know what you are truly capable of without that push. Look back in history. Not in authors alone but in ANY life experience or devotion to anything at all, you will not find a soul who has not first failed in what they have accomplished. This ranges from being a parent to being the president. Not a single person at any time didn’t have to learn on the curve to make what they set out to accomplish a reality.
Rejection is a beautiful thing. You learn, you grow, and you get better. With repeated rejection your improvements are endless possibilities. You can do anything you set your mind to and with the kick in the butt from rejection your more apt to do it.
Remember as a child someone telling you that you can do anything? This is more true than anyone seems to realize. Not giving up is the key. Not cowering when rejected and moving forward is the only way to move on. The only way to learn is to see your faults for what they are and grow past them. Do not allow yourself to be discouraged with each rejection instead rejoice. It’s a new opportunity to master whatever it may be you are trying to accomplish.