Rejection is hard. It’s an age old trope, but rings true for so many aspects of life. We all want to feel valued, to have self-worth and believe we are making a difference in our jobs, relationships and in the lives of others. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. Rejection is inevitable and is something I work hard to make peace with. It may be you make a decision that will displease others and you will fall out of their favour, perhaps forever. In my case, turning around and openly inviting criticism on a project so dear and so personal was a huge step, particularly when I knew what was inevitably going to happen.
I of course set myself up for ‘failure’ as it were, straight away. All of the authors I admire accrued big lists of rejections before they were given their chance-J.K Rowling famously, but other authors such as Dan Brown, Lisa Jewell (a personal favourite of mine) and even Beatrix Potter, whose books are still entertaining and inspiring youngsters over 100 years on. So I told myself rejections were going to be plentiful, and that was ok.
And as the emails began coming in, I was surprised to feel excited at first. Agents and/or readers were reading my humble three chapters, actually reading them! I was thrilled. And I was successfully managing to not take the rejections personally, so I was proud of myself too. But now the total number of rejections is seven, and it’s been four months. The calm resolve I had before has been steadily worn down by panic and self-doubt. What if no one ever says yes? What if the story I have been working on for years is mediocre? What will I do for a career if this doesn’t work out? Being at the point where I need to widen my scope, contact more agents, consider my online presence, and try to get some other writing gigs for experience, these questions are relentless and terrifying.
It is difficult not to compare oneself to others in times like these. I often catch myself enviously looking at the successes of others, but this only helps me to undermine my own achievements. And I don’t need any extra help with that. Besides of which, it’s the least productive thing I could do at this point.
So what’s my plan? Giving up is not an option, not after so long and after I have been through so much. So no matter what happens I have to try to stay focussed and positive, something the blog is helping me with. It isn’t easy, but I have to be patient and steadfast and believe in my work.
I have decided to join Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRecord artist collaboration. He’s awesome (incredible actor and feminist, what more is there to say!) and they have commissioned for a lovely piece on ‘in between moments’, so as a creative exercise I am going to start contributing where I can. This should help me as I strive to get back into writing-I need to push on with my next novel, Wendy’s House (gulp) even though the prospect is daunting at the moment for a number of reasons. In particular I am finding it hard to let go of the characters and the story of Latest Mistake, something I will write about next time.
For now, I will try and take comfort in one of my favourite Shakespeare quotes from Julius Caesar:
“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”