I got a rejection today.
It was a short and very sweet note, but it still had within it that one stinging, final word.
I didn't really mind it. That much.
Many years ago, I started writing poems. I would write silly things and perhaps deep things and meaningful (to me) things the same way some choose to put hook and yarn together and crochet an evening away. I would do it while watching TV sometimes. And I thought that, you know, perhaps an attempt here or there was starting to sound pretty good.
So I let my rubber meet the road and I started submitting a few. Not too many, but enough to say I did it.
Some people replied and said a polite, "thank you, but no thank you," no reason given, although some included a word of encouragement; but most letters were curt.
Some let the silence be the beacon to guide their answer.
But then there is the third kind of rejection, which I find to be the most cutting and the one that feels like a bucket of ice-cold knives– the kind that, the more you try to shake it off, the deeper it seems to drive the ice cold shame that makes you feel like a fool for trying: the "helpful" rejection.
The one that doesn't stop at telling you that you were found lacking, but either attempts to couch it in passive aggressive politeness (… "the tone is just not quite our fit at the present time…") or merely hints at the fact that the person at the other end wants you to know that he or she deems you're trying hard but it's really just not going to cut it.
I never could figure out how to get over that one. I think I just balled them all up and amused myself with a self-on-self pickup "loserball" game. I'm tempted to say that I just blocked those painful memories altogether.
I have not tried to do that again.
More than once in this space, I have wondered how people deal with rejection; specifically, I remember wondering what it might be like to deal with rejection as an intrinsic part of your job description. And yet, it seems that it's nearly impossible to get anywhere or to get anyone to notice you unless you develop thick skin and toughen up to the rejections, big and small, that you will likely encounter on your way to letting people know your wares. It's the risk you take that eventually brings you a payoff, whatever that may be (admittedly, a nice payoff for me would be more appreciative readers).
As I write this, I also realize the irony of how many of you may be put off by my sudden up-tick in writing, and how this may cause you to stop coming here or unsubscribing from my feed. And how some of you may have already unsubscribed because one of my return posts happened to reference Aunt Flo broadly, and not much else. Sorry about that.
And now I am actually laughing and feeling just a little bit better, knowing that for every person who votes away from this place that is a piece of me with their clicks, there are many of you (over one hundred such souls, according to Feedburner) who think this is worthy of your time and of your readership.
What do you say, we play some pickup paperball sometime?
(Incidentally, I owe someone chocolate. I am off to find a randomizer so I can get a winner by the end of the week!)
Hmm, can we play pickup paperball over a really long distance? I’m willing to try it. 🙂
I think the thought of being rejected several times before finding some publisher willing to take a risk on my writing is what keeps me from pushing myself to find an agent and get published. I’ve got fairly thick skin for most things however, as I discovered the other day, my writing is something I’m still sensitive about.
Doesn’t matter what you talk about, I’ll still be faithfully reading. 🙂 The ones who leave because of one post aren’t ones for you to worry over.
Pickup paperball sounds fabulous!
And I think that the best thing I’ve found about writing is that you can gain so much without it never being published. Heck, without it necessarily even being read by anyone at all. I guess when the internal reward is so great, the rest is just bonus material. I love thinking of writing that way. Puts some of the power back on your end.