Rejection. It happens, right? That’s what all we authors all tell ourselves, anyway, and sometimes we eve do it with a careless shrug and a laugh. And then we turn away and cry. Bitterly. Because we fear rejection. Deep down, we fear it like a two year-old fears the bogeyman.
Okay. I don’t do this often…but in this case I’m going to relate a very personal story because it connects directly to my feelings about rejection and the unnecessary agony I see some fellow authors put themselves through over it.
When I was 10 yrs-old I suffered catastrophic, inexplicable, and irreversible kidney failure. Due to various factors - which I won’t get into here - I waited 7 years for a transplant, every one of those hard and on dialysis ( I won’t go into that either because it’s a novel in its own darned right! ) and when I did get that magical, life-saving transplant -?
Well, it did its best to kill me.
No. Seriously, it did.
Long story short, I reacted with deadly violence against the life- and kidney-saving drugs I was being given, only one out of every ten thousand people who were unlucky enough to do so. More of the long-and-for-another-day story cut mercifully short, I recovered. Against all odds, to the amazement of my doctors, and only to find that my precious life-giving transplant kidney ( which had functioned with steady perfection throughout all the bad stuff ) was starting to REJECT.
Well, hell. That sucked ass.
I was assured by one of the most competent and personable nurses whom I have ever had the pleasure of encountering that this was temporary set-back, something that was to be expected, and which could be easily reversed, and that all would be fine…But she also reminded me that even if the kidney did reject permanently, I had got to where I was once, hadn’t I? I could get there again if I was called upon to do so. The bald, simple truth of that statement struck me more than anything else had ever done before or since in my life.
Guess what? Twenty-some years ( and a lot more abuse ) later I still have the same steadily functioning transplant kidney. I’ve had one more episode of rejection - and I didn’t even know about it! My doc told me months afterward. I couldn’t give a shit either. I have always remembered that nurse’s advice: you did it once, you can do it again. Rejection is as rejection does...
And to come to my point…I’ve had a bunch of my writing stuff published in magazines, small presses, by publishers etc. I’ve also had my share of rejections. A whole motherfucking lot of ’em, actually. But has this rejection scarred me, deterred me, sent me weeping and tearing out my hair, running to a corner of a dark room, where I scheme and slobber, wild-eyed, never seeking the light of day again?…
Um, well...NO. Not at all.
Because I don’t fear it.
I stopped fearing rejection of any kind on that long, hot, agitated night I spent in hospital, because I realized something about rejection itself on that same night…
… I realized that rejection itself cannot kill us.
I fought the rejection of something that really was a life-and-death matter to me, and you know what I learned - ? That it doesn’t even matter that I 'won' - it matters that I fought and I did my best whilst I fought.
What more can any one of us ask of ourselves?
Oh, and if you're still feeling crappy about your book being rejected, go take a look at this:
Publishers Who Got It Embarrassingly Wrong
If that doesn't make you feel better, then you're in the wrong game, matey!