Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rejection and Motivation

No one likes rejection. Heck, boys are afraid to ask out girls because they don't want the possibility of being rejected (or laughed at) for their request. It's a horrible feeling when someone rejects your work, whether its writing of some kind, or artwork, or music, etc. You're putting yourself out there, showing you heart and soul, and someone stomps on you. It crushes you and you want to curl up in a ball and hide.

Rejection can kill your motivation to do what you love doing. It's hard to keep going when someone says your work "sucks". Dear God, how do you face the new day when your heart and soul are lying on the floor, smashed beyond all recognition?

Here's a perspective on this: Rejection says a lot about a person, not only the creator, but the reviewer or critic. Hear me out. Don't jump to conclusions yet.

If your story or work of art, whichever art it is, gets "rejected" by a reviewer, critic, or agent, and you just give up, run away and never look back, perhaps the reviewer was right. Your story wasn't ready for public consumption; you weren't ready for public consumption and you don't have the stamina to go the distance. Perhaps now is a good time to look for another pursuit.

But if you stick with it, after some time away and some rest, you'll see the problems and you'll be able to fix them. Your story will be better. You will be better; better than you used to be, and you're always improving. It shows you're ready to push through the naysayers and take your place among the authors on the bookstore shelves. Never give up; never surrender!

The other side of the coin is about the reviewer, the critic. Perhaps you hit them on an off-day. Maybe they're not into your genre. Maybe their brother just died or was diagnosed with cancer and they can't see any good with anything they received the day you submitted. It's not just about you; it's about them, too.

I recently got my scores back from the Golden Heart competition for RWA. Most of my scores weren't too bad. But one score was so painfully low, it made me grind my teeth. Come on, was it really that bad, especially when every other judge gave it much higher marks? It hurt a little, but it made me realize that I must have hit that person wrong; whether it was because the story was about werewolves and this person HATES werewolves; or this person prefers sweet romances and I'd put in too much sex; or maybe the first three chapters reviewed didn't have enough sex; or maybe the title put them off. Whatever the reason, this person rejected the story harshly and what could I do?

I'll tell you what I'm going to do; I'm going to revise with the help of my critique partners and I'll either resubmit it after I've had some time to reconsider it or I'll submit a different, more refined story next year. I know I'm improving; I can see it in the samples of my writing from one year to the next.

I've heard stories about Clive Cussler and Stephen King and even John Grisham. They were rejected a lot; I think Grisham was rejected over 100 times. But look at them now; they persevered and revised and kept going until they hit the right reviewer, the right agent, who loved their stories. Now they're happily making handfuls of money for those "rejected" stories.

Give yourself permission to take time to revise, to rest, to recharge. Life doesn't stop while you're writing and it can get busy, but your work will be there when you're ready to get back to it and you will improve. Work with your critique partners and see if their suggestions are in line with where you want your story to go. Writing is a tough business, but it's a worthwhile pursuit, too. Never give up; never surrender.

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