Monday, February 8, 2010

Dealing with rejection

I've read a few good posts today on dealing with rejection, and what I've come away with is this: don't take it personally, because it's personal.

"Say wha?" you say? "But you just..and then you...this is crazygonuts talk!"

It's impossible to not take rejection personally: you show me a person who can brush it off without so much as a scowl and I'll show you a robot secretly planted by the government in the 60's to spy on us and expose our weaknesses. Something that I don't hear a lot of people saying and I think deserves to be said: it's okay to get pissed off about a rejection. Whether it comes as a form rejection, a bad review, a Domino's pizza number from the hot girl at the bar or a lost job opportunity, it hurts. And we as humans have the right (nay, the responsibility) to cry and scream and break stuff and generally feel bad for ourselves for awhile. Eat that gallon of Blue Bell, gentle reader, liberally salted with tears, because otherwise you might be the guy in the grocery line who snaps and goes on a rampage and I need Nutter Butters way too often to avoid that chance encounter.

What is not okay, and is in fact generally frowned upon, is acting upon those hurt feelings. Because while it feels personal for you, it wasn't meant for you personally from the rejecter. You are one in a long line of queriers/writers/bar hoppers/job applicants for said rejecter, and the odds are if they had a reason to have a secret vendetta against you, you wouldn't have sent your work to them in the first place. Responding in a hurt moment with something spiteful will only get you pegged as unprofessional, and could cost you opportunities in the future. We all know this on an intellectual level, but we've all had our moments of weakness on an emotional level that have led to much head hanging the next day.

Here's the biggest secret of all: the rejection is personal, but not in the way you think. The rejection is the PERSONAL OPINION (did you catch that? I'll say it again: PERSONAL OPINION) of the rejecter, and has never and probably will never be entered in a court of law as a statement of fact. Most rejecters will tell you something doesn't work for them, and they know they don't speak for everyone. They can't, that would just be weird. For every reader you find who likes a Dan Brown book, I'd be willing to bet you could find two that hate it. Do you think Dan Brown is crying in his palatial complex on the beach, wiping his tears with thousand dollar bills (do they even make those)? Methinks not.

So give yourself a little cry, mope around for awhile feeling sorry for yourself, and then get over it and find the person who your work/skills/awesome dance moves were meant for in this world.


Jen said...

Personal opinion... hmm, not many people think of that when they are angry but it is certainly something to remember. There personal opinion is they don't think it will work for THEIR company, so you pick yourself up and try again!!!

I agree though... being upset and angry is natural, just don't be a fool and act unprofessional or shot of getting a deal becomes more slim!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

This is a great point and terrific advice. And I can tell you, the contest feedback I just received had totally opposing opinions on some things from judges. So yes, definitely personal opinions.

Bethany Wiggins said...

If you can't handle rejection, then writing is definitely not a good profession to choose! Because you can't please everyone all the time. Look at Stephanie Meyer. She's one of the biggest sellers in the literary world... and one of the most despised because her writing isn't very good. I bet it still gets under her skin, too--but those millions probably are a good balm!

Victoria Dixon said...

You make an excellent point and I wish I had one of Dan Brown's thousand dollar bills (I THINK they make them) to wipe my cheeks with. Any cheek. LOL. Seriously, I wouldn't be upset (REALLY) if the agents just responded. The three I've actually received back this month have made me HAPPY because they had the courtesy to respond. Form rejections are ok. At least they didn't completely ignore me. Of course, it also still sucks because I have targeted who I send to and I can't tell why I haven't had requests for partials. Not when they don't respond....