Have you ever been grateful when something you hoped for didn’t work out?
I am not completely sure if I am just doing a deep dive for a lesson but when I got an email rejection for a residency recently (wasn’t even a finalist) I was more at peace with it than I expected. It is not as if I wouldn’t have done the work and been proud if I had but I was accepting that maybe it just wasn’t my time. All I wanted to know was how I could strengthen my application for next year and I sent that email asking for an answer.
I realized I want to be better. Better will come with classes, reading, continuing this blog, journaling, and writing fiction and poetry. Better will come when I choose to show up at workshops and conferences.
Yes, I was sad and I let myself have a whole evening to feel it.
But I know one rejection doesn’t mean everything and it means there’s room for other projects to take root and bloom.
And maybe it’s time for me to create these opportunities for myself.
Yesterday, I received two kinds of news. We’ll start with the “negative.” I submitted two pieces to a literary magazine. Both were rejected. However, my reaction was a sigh and guess what? I’ll have something else to add to my collection.
Let me explain. Last year, I got my first official rejection from an agent I sent requested pages to after the James River Writers’ Conference 2016. The email was kind and encouraging but she just didn’t connect with the work. I called my sister (younger but so wise and confident–I believe she was secretly reading HR Manuals and Personal Development books while the rest of us were struggling with our ABCs).
After telling her what happened, she practically congratulated me! “You got your first rejection. You should print it out and hang it on your wall!” I was a little puzzled but it quickly became clear: It means I tried! It means I put myself out there! It means I actually had pages to send the agent! It means that this is the first of many so I better keep going!
I never forgot that conversation. I have saved every rejection and kept every pitch I sent out no matter the result. They are my treasures, too. I look forward to perusing them when I’ve “made it.”
On to the second kind of news. I have been asked to be a guest on a podcast! I will follow-up soon with more details. Also, the post I wrote about the 2017 Pop-Up Conference with Sharvette Mitchell was featured on her website: www.mitchell-productions.com. For me, the point I want to drive home is to keep going. Look forward to the failures. It means you put yourself in the arena and choose not to sit on the sidelines.
This is all I can ask of myself.
Your turn: How do you deal with rejection? Has your perspective changed as you have gotten older?