Dealing With Rejection
I’m going to give you some advice today. This is a semi-rare occurrence, so be sure to listen up. 😉 Normally I love to share with you all the upbeat, positive, and encouraging aspects of my life. And it’s true that being an author is a wonderful thing. I get to meet so many people and talk to so many readers. And, hello! I get to basically sit around and write for a living, which is obviously awesome. 😉 But today I want to share with you another, less exciting part of the writing/publishing journey. And that is rejection.
To be a writer, you need to have tough skin. I decided before my book became published, that I was never going to cry about it. No matter how mean people were in their criticisms of me or my work, I was going to keep a stiff upper lip. I realize now that I was being prideful and stuck-up when I told myself that. Why? Because I was assuming that it would be beneath me to have feelings. That it would make me a weaker person to be hurt when someone doesn’t like me. That my book was above criticism or reproach.
There have been cases where I have dealt with rejection, and felt that it was totally unfair. Ever received a rejection letter from an agent that sounds like it was typed out in ten seconds and sent to every single wannabe writer who ever contacted them? I have. Dozens of them. And I’ve been looked over for speaking engagements, book signings, and workshops. But I’m okay with that. Really and truly okay.
What’s harder is when I deal with criticism from someone who has actually read my book and didn’t like it. Because I know that it sounds vain and prideful and arrogant, but I want people to like me! Obviously I see all the flaws with my work, probably better than anyone else. And yet every time I hear someone make a stinging remark about it, it stings me, too. It hurts to hear people say that I need to mature, or be less preachy, or be more preachy, or make up better endings. Let me make it clear again, I totally realize that all of that is one hundred percent true, but it messes with my pride.
Now is when I’m going to give you that advice I promised at the beginning of the post. Here it is: Find someone who will criticize you, reject you, and make you feel like a piece of dirt. And then thank them. Because that person has done way more for you than any fan of your writing will ever do.
That’s probably not what you were expecting me to say, but I’ll try to make it clear. Every time I have been angry or upset or hurt by something someone said about me, I grew that much more. God shapes us through our humbling and embarrassing experiences. Sometimes it takes a critic to remind us that we are not perfect, and never will be. Our work will always have flaws, and we’ll always need people to point that out for us. No matter how good we may be feeling about ourselves, there will always be at least one aspect of our lives that we can work on.
I can’t say that I’m quite ready yet to cheer on my critics. To develop tough skin and smile with a sweet “Thank you” every time I read something negative about my book. But even if it might bring me down for a while, I’m thankful for the opportunities to grow. To remember that it is only by the grace of God that I can write anything even half-good at all! To be grateful for discovering another thing that I can work to be better at. And to share with others the big things that God is doing in my life, shaping me through rejections and growing me through pain.