Quote of the Week: “After the final no there comes a yes, and on that yes the future world depends.” Wallace Stevens
Writing Exercise of the Week: Write for 10 minutes about a time you were caught in a storm. Where were you, who were you with, and what happened?
This seems as good a time as any to talk about rejection. If you’re a writer in search of publication or are already published, you’ve probably experienced it first hand.
Those dreaded rejection letters.
You don’t have to be a writer to know what we’re talking about. Rejection doesn’t discriminate—anyone and everyone has been there. If you’re alive and walking this earth, you’ve had your fair share of rejections. And let’s face it—rejections suck.
None of us are made of Teflon—what people throw our way often sticks. We know it shouldn’t, but it doesn’t change the fact that it does.
But what other people do or say—and why they do or say what they do—isn’t your business. You have zero control over other people (just in case that wasn’t evident by now). But all is not lost, because you have one hundred percent control over you. You get to choose, in every second and every day, how you want to feel.
What does this mean when a rejection comes your way? Nothing. That’s right. It is irrelevant what other people choose to do, even if it seems like it’s about you. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Maybe they tell you it is (when it’s not), or tell you it’s not (when it is). Enough to drive you crazy, isn’t it? That’s because you can’t get into another person’s head, no matter how clever or intuitive you are. And that’s just as well, because you have no business being there in the first place.
Your job, therefore, is to mind your own business about you. Is what you’re doing working for you? Do you like it? That’s all that matters. Great innovators often find their path strewn with rejections, and great writers, too. Dr. Seuss, C.S. Lewis, James Joyce, Isaac Asimov, John le Carre, William Saroyan, Louisa May Alcott, Agatha Christie, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, John Grisham, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Judy Blume, Madeline L’Engle … the list goes on. You could say that multiple rejections didn’t bother them, but that wouldn’t be true. They just continued on the path of doing what felt important to them, in search of the right partner or opportunity they knew was out there. They sent out more letters, they wrote more books. They didn’t try to translate the rejection into anything other than the fact that the person saying “no” wasn’t a fit for them.
I keep my rejection letters, not as a badge of honor, but to remind myself and others that rejection has very little to do with where you ultimately end up. Let the rejections of your life clarify what you want to do next, and then go do it.
Darien Gee is a national bestselling author based in Waimea. She also writes under the name Mia King. Her next book, Writing the Hawaii Memoir: Advice and Exercises to Help You Tell Your Story, is out next month by Watermark Publishing. Darien also offers writing and publication coaching. Learn more at dariengee.com.