How to Handle Rejection
In this post, I’m going to skip ahead from the tales of Frosty the Fan Oven (he was fixed, and the ‘Gawd bless us, every one’ Turkey was a success on Christmas Day) to January 2009. T’was on this inauspicious day that I received my first rejection as an author-in-waiting …
An exciting day is upon us. My first rejection arrived this morning. I am finally a ‘real’ writer.
I get the feeling I should have dissolved into a puddle of tears by now but I am happy to report there is not even the start of a sniffle. Perhaps my months and years of ‘preparing for the rejection of my work’ have actually – and I hadn’t quite anticipated this – prepared me for the rejection of my work. Job well done.
The Journey Continues
My manuscript must go out into the world again, a wiser woman. I certainly had to kiss a few frogs before I found my prince and the same may be true for her, or maybe not. Maybe Prince/Princess Charming (I can see this metaphor becoming problematic) is just around the corner. We shall see. All I know for sure is that I am one step closer to finding the perfect agent and that, for me, is a great result.
Should You Prepare for it?
How do you handle rejection, and how do you prepare for it? With a few years and a number of improbably glorious successes under my belt, my advice would be somewhere in the vicinity of ‘prepare for the worst but hope for the best’. This runs foul of the rules of Law of Attraction gurus, but I’ve always been a bit of a rebel. Some rules work for me … the ones I make up … the others are open to interpretation.
By ‘prepare for the worst’ I mean ‘don’t be a total arse about your situation, and if you can’t swim and you’re on an island with no shelter and only a turtle for company, don’t burn all the boats’*.
In Palaces and Calluses, there’s a scene where Mary sits at a table, under the watchful gaze of Rock, the Border Collie, and writes a bunch of lists. As I remember, they are: ‘What do I want? What do I need? What won’t I put up with?’ Something like that. I don’t know. If you bought the book, let me know. Anyhow, that’s what I’m talking about with this idea. Here’s an example of one of the things I might have thought at the time:
What do I want? ‘A self-hosted, fancy pants, WordPress blog.’
What do I need? ‘A blog … a free one will do.’
What won’t I put up with? ‘Waiting until I can afford a self-hosted WordPress blog before I start blogging.’
I set up a Blogger blog, won a stack of awards, got a column in a magazine, and became an author. If I hadn’t done that, I would only just have started blogging (in the end, I got too comfortable with Blogger and refused to upgrade until this week, but there’s a whole other lesson there). Can you imagine if I’d waited? NONE of this would have happened.
The ‘worst’ scenario when you send out a manuscript is that it’s rejected, but that doesn’t leave you in a bad situation, it just means you need to make your way down the alphabet. What’s Plan B? If you ‘prepared for the worst’ you’ll have plans B – Z sketched out. What’s the best case scenario for the particular action of sending out that manuscript? It’s accepted. Excellent. Now, what’s the next step? Think ahead. If it’s accepted, then what? If it’s rejected, then what?
Tony Robbins – Not Just an American with a Grin
Tony Robbins has the best take on this. He says that you can choose to think positive all the time if you like, but that going outside and saying ‘there are no weeds’ will never get rid of the weeds. You need to get on your hands and knees and pull them up, or use weed killer, or whatever ‘Plan B’ is (Plan A having been ‘have a garden in which I hope weeds never grow, and they don’t’). He says that people should live in the reality of the moment: not seeing life as better or worse than it is, but seeing it AS IT IS. Then, he says, we should create a compelling vision of how things COULD be once we reach our goal, and take massive action so that we improve our situation, and do reach that goal.
- Don’t let a rejection or obstacle stop you
- Get clear on your goal
- Take massive and consistent action
- Notice what is working and what isn’t working
- Do the stuff that works, and tweak course as needed to reach your dream
In the end, I decided to publish myself. Of course, in 2009, I hadn’t a clue I’d make that decision. If someone had told me that I would turn down agents AND publishers to make that decision (and that I’d be confident enough of my own abilities to do so) only a few months later, I wouldn’t have believed it. All I knew was that I had to pick myself up and keep going, and that’s what I did.
Next Time …
In the next post … I’ll skip forward another month. The US has its first black president, but that’s not the most newsworthy story in my house. My ‘prepare for the worst, hope for the best’ approach is about to save our lives – literally. An extreme weather event happens … a storm with such strength and duration that it has the potential to sweep away our lives hits the little cottage, and we are forced to enact a plan known only as ‘Operation Sh*tstorm’.
* There are certain circumstances in which is DOES make sense to burn all the boats. If you’re an aspiring novelist, it doesn’t, because there’s no short cut to writing and editing a book. Given that, if you burn all the boats, you’ll starve. This isn’t the case for non-fiction however, and it isn’t the case for other industries. If you’re an entrepreneur with a home business, for instance, there ARE short cuts. This is one of them, and it’s only $9.97 with a full money back guarantee. It’s phenomenal that they let you in for that price, and with no risk, but they do. Gawd bless ’em!