Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Positive Side of Rejection

The "positive" side of rejection? Oh, I can hear you now! What is positive about rejection? Well, let me tell you a little story. At dinner one night, one of our companions was talking about her granddaughter, and how fantastic a basketball player she had been in high school. Now that she was in college, her basketball days were behind her. "Oh?" I asked. "She didn't want to be in sports in college?" Hmm, it wasn't that she didn't want to, it was that after winning game after game in high school, she couldn't seem to achieve that same star quality in college, so she considered herself a failure, and she quit. OH. She quit.

As writers. we fail a lot. Think about it. How many times do you think you have gotten that story just right, and you send it to your critique group. And it comes back with all kinds of suggestions: your characters are too one-dimensional; your narration concerning you settings is too long and too boring; you have too much telling and not enough showing. We've failed to produce the well-written manuscript that we thought we had. So, we try again. And again. Until finally, the critique group says YAY, submit that puppy!

So we submit. Again and again. We get enough rejection letters to paper our office. Well, those we actually get, that is. There are always those agents and editors that we wait on for a response of some kind for 8, 9 months, maybe 10, and still hear nothing. We have failed. Again and again and again.

Really? I don't think so. Failures quit. Writers don't. We just start writing, rewriting, editing, revising, again. And again. And again. Therefore, it stands to reason we are not failures. Because. Writers. Don't. Quit.

I've heard it said that the pathway to publication can be compared to today's freeways. What do you find on a busy freeway? Traffic. Road blocks because of traffic. Bumps in the road because of traffic. Signs telling you that this lane is closed, merge left...where all the traffic is to begin with. All of which leads to slowdowns and frustration. A lot of frustration. A lot of frustration is the major road sign leading to publication, because waiting and waiting and waiting some more, only to get a rejection or even, hear nothing, is the most frustrating and disappointing thing a writer can go through.

But we are writers, and we WILL become authors Because in order for us to succeed, we have to fail. It's the nature of the beast, and since we can't kill the beast, we learn to live with him, and learn from him.  We may have to feed him a lot more than we would like, but eventually, he's going to get full. And that's when we get that oh so treasured acceptance!

Writers have that personality trait known as sticttoitiveness...and yes, that's a real word. You can call it perserverance or whatever you want, but the point is, writers keep on writing in the face of failure, because we never call failure defeat. We learn as we go, that you cannot have success without failure, so in order to have one, we must accept the other.

General George Patton once said, "I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs, but by how high he bounces back when he hits obstacles." As writers, we're always hitting obstacles, but to finally be successful, we have to bounce back. And the higher we can bounce, the better we can write, and the sooner our success will come.

Here are a few success stories...AFTER their failures:

Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of NBA's Dallas Mavericks: his parents wanted him to have a "normal" job, so he tried carpentry, but he hated it; he became a short order cook, but he couldn't cook; he waited tables but couldn't open a bottle of wine without spilling it. He says, "I've learned it doesn't matter how many times you fail. You only have to be right once."
Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series, made into movies: wrote the first Twilight book from a dream, and never intended to publish it until a friend encouraged her. Nine literary agents rejected her, One gave her a chance, and that led to EIGHT publishers fighting for the right to publish the book. Today she is reportedly worth $40 million.
Stephen King: his first book, Carrie, was rejected 30 times, and after the last rejection, he threw the book in the trash. His wife rescued it and insisted he keep on trying. He has sold more than 350 million copies of his books.
Vincent Van Gogh: only sold one painting in his lifetime, yet he painted more than 800. Today his most valued painting is worth $142.7 million.
John Grisham: took 3 years to write his first book, A Time to Kill, and it was rejected 28 times before he got a "yes." Today he has sold close to 300 million of his books.

If you don't try and fail, you aren't going to be able to try and succeed. And that's the "positive" side of rejection.

Think about it.

Until next time,
That's a wrap.