The dejection of rejection
Just last week, I got a rejection letter about one of my short stories which I had hoped would make it into an anthology. I was quite confident I’d be successful – the story had been posted online a while ago and a lot of people had given extremely positive feedback about it.
And so to get that rejection was quite deflating.
When I asked to know the reasons for the rejection, the editors told me that the storyline – based on a single HIV positive mother – was ‘tired’ and brought nothing new to the literary world.
Fair enough - I was thankful to at least get this feedback and know where I had gone wrong.
But rejection still hurts.
Whether inflicted by the person you love intimately, by a group of people you want to be a part of, by a family member, or by some editor on another continent and different time zones away – your heart still bleeds and pours that acrid feeling of pain out into your veins.
And for a while, you fear doing anything so daring ever again. You feel like you are not good enough and just want to get back into the comfort zone of anonymity.
But if you choose to look at it the right way, you see the opportunity for growth that rejection provides. Rejection teaches you to be stronger and to hold on even when those around you don’t see what is in you that you know you possess abundantly.
It teaches you to do either one of two things with criticism – take it constructively and rebuild your confidence, or build a wall of fear around yourself.
Today, I got another rejection letter, this time from a newspaper. No explanation – just a polite email telling me they can’t use the piece.
The rejection is still raw so I don’t want to know what was wrong with the piece (I once again thought it was pretty good!). But I know that after I have had a chance to sleep over it and get my spirits back up, I will write an email in response and ask to know where I may have gone wrong.
Rejection is a process of hurting and then healing. It is all about accepting things, learning new ways and improving who you are.
And so I welcome these two rejections – grudgingly but maturely. This will not stop me trying…