A horrible word, rejection. It conjures all sorts of ill feelings in our guts, demeaning us and stripping us bare, so we’re left with just our hypersensitive skin to cringe in the face of any breeze. We’re demoralized, reduced to eating worms, or bawling plaintively how we’re not good enough for anything.
For some of us authors, it transforms us into turtles, where we slip our battered heads into our shells. Some of us wait out the storm, not moving until our broken egos muster the courage to stick our faces back out into the fierce sun. Others of us rally a war cry, rebounding instantly after the shock of the hit, and rail against “the bastards!” Or yet, we console ourselves with wine (whine) or pints of chocolate ice cream.
Inevitably, we hoist up the belt on our holstered six-shooters and aim again. We writers can’t help it. An innate force compels us to continue on, dragging ourselves through the arid wasteland of Rejection Desert. We write. It’s not only what we do, but what we are. We can’t stop, even after we’ve written drivel we’ll throw into the trash.
We scrap the words into the recycle bin and start again. And again. And yet again. For in the striving, we strike a vein of gold and run our excited fingers across the keyboard as fast we can manage. We churn out some really great stuff in these moments, these hours, and days. Though at the end there is no guarantee, just an objective assayer of our hard work who may or not deem our efforts worthy.
Still, we push on. The lesson is hard and rarely does our skin grow thick. We just figure out how to cope with the devastating blows, how to ignore the sting of the lash while we press on. If we’re smart, we learn from these rejections. We sharpen our queries, rake over our manuscripts to find fresh ways to say the same thing. All in the quest to avoid another rejection.
Never happens, though. Like seeds in a watermelon, they’re always present no matter how hard we try to avoid them. But like those seeds, they can germinate bountiful fruit if we know how to sow and harvest our rejections.
Me? I’m a gardener. Are you?