Owning my Failure

March 10, 2014

Rejection is a funny thing.  

 

Haha, just kidding. Rejection sucks.  It just truly, actually, inevitably sucks.

 

Yet it is such a reliable part of the business of writing, that, when it happens, we all just pretend like we're chill about the whole process.

 

"No bigs.  I'm cool. I'm a writer now, and that's just part o' the biz, knowimssayin? What, that? No no, that's just sweat.  I was running earlier and sometimes my eyes...it's a funny story..."

 

Rejection is just "part o' the biz," but, that doesn't make it any less anguishing. When I get a rejection, my stomach drops, I well up, and reread the email about 50 times to see if I read it wrong.  Nope, still rejected. Then my brain butts in to the whole equation...

 

"Psst! Reagan! Send another query."

 

"Gee, brain, I dunno. I mean, I'm kinda distressed. Plus my tears are blocking my view of the computer screen."

 

"Aww, c'mon, Reagan! Pick yourself up! It's only ONE rejection.  It's only ONE opinion. It's not like you've FAILED."

 

"But what if I did fail..."

 

"Failure? Ewww! Yucky! No - they just didn't understand you.  Someone else will. You've got to get yourself back out there.  RIGHT THIS SECOND!"

 

"Good idea, brain! Nothing could possibly go wrong with this scenario ever!  Your'e the best."

 

But here's the problem. I did fail. For whatever reason, I failed to 1) accurately judge the interests of the agent/publisher 2) failed to grab the agent/publisher's attention.  Whether preventable or not, failure factored in to the equation. If I submit something new without having owned my failure first, I fail to learn. Perhaps there's nothing to change in my query or story once the dust clears. Perhaps the rejection was a failure of compatibility. In any case, I don't know that until I've lived in failure for a period of time.

 

It is such a dirty word, and yet failure helps me bear fruit. I need rejection and mistakes to fertilize the eventual bloom that is my writing career.

 

So here's my rule:  when I get a rejection, I let myself cry, I let myself live in my failure for a night, I feed my grief bacon, I watch House of Cards on Netflix, and I put on my comfy pajamas. 

 

And then I move on.

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