Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday's Focus: Rejection and Acceptance

Today is more of a thoughtful day than anything else. But it isn't necessarily all about writing, either.

I've been hearing and reading about a lot of writers, some I know personally, some only from the Internet, who are getting rejections on their short stories and novels, and their various reactions to them. Every writer knows that rejections are nothing more than a part of the writing journey, but for some, a rejection is a life-changing event. It can mean falling into the depths of depression, of beating one's self up about what a terrible writer they are, all the way to declaring an end to their journey and refusing to put pen to paper, or hands to computer keyboard, ever again. To me, there are only two reasons why a writer would do any of the above: either they have very low self-esteem and any kind of rejection from any person would have the same effect, or, they don't really want to be a writer in the first place. I'd put my money on the latter reason.

Alex Haley, author of the award-winning book Roots, which went on to become an award-winning TV show, went through 200 rejections before he sold this book Agatha Christie wrote and submitted for five years before she sold a single one of her mystery stories. The same kind of story exists for present day writers, like J.R. Rowlings, whose first book about Harry Potter received nothing but rejections until the 8 year-old daughter of an agent who had received the manuscript and couldn't sell it, demanded to read the whole story. That 8 year-old's reaction was the impetus that sold the first of the seven-book Harry Potter saga. These people, as well as thousands of other writers, want to write badly enough to keep on writing and submitting until finally, their work is accepted and they are rightly called authors.

You don't give up. That's the trick. A long and many times, lonely and frustrating journey, from writer to author, but you don't give up. You keep on keeping on. There's no other way. Rejections are a part of a writer's life. Keep them in a file, post them on a corkboard where you can see them every day, wallpaper your office with them, it doesn't matter what you DO with them, but they are there, they are a part of your life as a writer, and often, they are a valuable part of your writer's journey. Accept the rejection. Cry, swear, throw things, beat your desk with a wooden spoon ( just don't beat the dog who will bite the cat who will scratch your husband, and then you'll really be in deep do-do), and then...take a deep breath, do whatever you're going to do with that rejection, pour yourself a cup of coffee, take the bag of chocolate out of the fridge, and start writing again.
It's life. Live it.

Acceptance. I'm not talking about writing here. Today is September 13, but I'm talking about 9/11/2001. A day of despicable tragedy, a day which will, or should, live in infamy for eternity. Yet, I noticed something this year...very little was said about 9/11 this year. A few scattered memorials on TV, a few words from our President, and that's it. I saw nothing on FaceBook about it; nothing was said about it on the two writers' forums I'm on; no big write-up in the newspapers. Yes, it was twelve years ago. Yes, some people want to forget about it, and "get on" with their lives.

Does "getting on" with your life mean that as a nation, we have become so accepting of the violence throughout out planet, and this cowardly act upon our own people, that we don't need to remember? Does the "acceptance" of what happened, of the lives lost and the lives forever changed, mean that we no longer need or should have memorials to that day and to those people? Is "acceptance" now the equivalent of "forgetting?" I know school children who were not born yet or who were infants/toddlers twelve years ago, who know almost nothing about that day...the day of September 11th, 2001, which should have changed the entire nation, but apparently hasn't. Why aren't they being taught, in depth, about this day, and what it means...or should have not only the United States but to the entire world? I don't know, but it seems to me that the "acceptance" of that day means that over time, it has no longer become a day of much significance.

I don't understand.

Until next time,
That's a wrap.