Thoughts On Rejection

Writing requires a great deal of vulnerability. To achieve any level of success and have your dream realized you must put a piece of yourself into an envelope or a PDF and send it off to be judged. Anyone who is in this business knows that rejection comes with the territory. You try to mentally brace yourself for its impact, but there is a small part of you that holds out hope for some good news. In that secret place deep down inside you privately imagine that you are soon going to be informed that an agent or editor thinks you’re the greatest thing since…well, the last greatest thing.

Then it comes like a sucker punch to the gut, and you realize that all of the preparation in the world could not be adequate enough to fend off the hurt that you feel.

Rejection comes in several forms. Sometimes it comes with a list of things that are wrong with your story. Sometimes it comes with a list of things that you can do to improve your story. Sometimes it comes with no explanation at all, and you are left alone to scratch your head and wonder what you did wrong.

What comes next tells the true tale of who you really are. It is the story behind the story.

Do you dismiss the criticism and vent to all of your friends about how some stupid person had the nerve to find fault with your work? Do you ignore the advice and eat seven bowls of chocolate ice cream all the while mumbling that someone didn’t recognize genius when they saw it? Do you throw your hands up in the air in defeat while pitching your manuscript in the trash? Do you walk away and never attempt to tell a story again?

Or do you work through the hurt and then take a long, hard look at your manuscript with honest eyes? Are you willing to do anything and everything within your power to become a better writer? Are you teachable?

Your reaction to rejection reflects the truth about you.

Having recently faced a publisher’s rejection I have been pondering this concept, and I have come to the conclusion that it is applicable to more than just the writing aspect of my life. You see, at the exact same time that I have been facing rejection as a writer I have also been facing rejection in some relationships.

The reality is that a life fully lived is going to require some vulnerability on my part. I am going to put myself out there…and I am going to be judged.

Inevitably, rejection will be a part of the process at times, and there is nothing that can be done to adequately prepare for pain that is soul deep. Sometimes it will come with a long list of my faults. Sometimes it will come with some advice on how I can improve. And sometimes it will come with no explanation at all.

What am I going to do with this experience? Will I retreat in fear? Will I lash out in anger?

Or will I work through the hurt and take a long, hard look at myself with honest eyes? Can I learn something from this process that will make me a better human being? Am I teachable?

As a person, and as a writer, I wish that I could say that my first reaction to rejection has always been mature and well thought out. However, if I am going to speak honestly I have to say that I have felt hurt and angry and afraid.

But I have felt the unwavering gaze of God on me in the swirl of my emotions. He is my one true thing. The One who sees all of my faults and does not walk away. The One who loves me in spite of me.

Grace given so lavishly generates a response deep within my soul. It makes me want to strive for excellence in every aspect of my life. And God is faithful to show me just where I need to apply my efforts. He has already pointed me back to some places in my life where I have been responsible for inflicting the exact same hurt that I am now feeling. Ouch. I am learning some important life lessons in an up close and intimate way. My words matter. My loyalty matters. I need to extend the same grace that I so desperately need. I knew these things in a peripheral sense, but there is nothing like making it personal to drive the point straight to the core of who I am.

There are things that I need to learn about myself and the character of God that can only be learned through the pain of rejection. There are things that I need to learn about my writing that can only be learned through the pain of rejection.

Jesus, please help me to be teachable.

~ Tracy Bowen


Jessica G. said...

Once again, Tracy, beautifully written. And, once again, you sound like you've "been inside my head.". :) I just wish I could express my thoughts as well as you do!
I think of you often. Sending a hug your way....

Ava Pennington said...

Once again, thank you for a well-written post that touches each of us - writer or not. I so appreciate your heart!
The lessons I've learned through rejection have been some of the most painful...but necessary. While I wish there were another way to learn them, I trust the One who is not only my Lord and Savior, but my Teacher as well.

Kirby said...

Well done. At first I thought this would help me with rejection in relationships, I guess I'll have to wait on that installment of You really said it well. It's always comforting to know that no matter what people may think or say about us, the creator of the universe thinks we're amazing and loves us no matter what. Beautifully written Tracy.

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.

Follow Bliss