This is hard to write.
As a writer, a large part of me is ashamed and embarrassed by repeated rejection.
So much so that I try to talk myself out of writing on a daily basis. I convince myself that it is hurting me—that I am unhappy because I am a writer who seeks validation. Validation from people I don’t even know, who don’t know me. This seeking feels foolish.
Needing validation makes me feel foolish, weak and pathetic.
I used to “like” rejection—it fueled me! Motivated me. I was a spiteful motherfucker. But now, with every poem, every essay, every short story, every manuscript that comes back with a flattering “thank you but no” . . . (sigh). . . it’s enough to make me question what the fuck I’ve been doing with the last ten years of my life, and if those years would have been better served doing something that benefited my family. Or my wallet. Or my health. Or even my resume.
Make no mistake, I don’t fear rejection. I merely question if my dissatisfaction with myself is being encouraged by it. That’s a hard thing to make peace with, no matter how much you love something.
It’s hard to keep writing into the void. You need faith for something like that—faith for which I used to have an abundance. I was blissfully naïve and hopeful that people would read my writing and say, “Man, she’s got it.” I thought I was different—maybe even special—and that that “specialness” would carry me through. That it would get me published. That it would make writing easy.
I am embarrassed that I thought this.
I am embarrassed that I thought I was special.
I am embarrassed that I thought ego was essential to survive rejection.
It’s funny—in a sick way, I look forward to these low points. After all, my best writing often blooms in darkness. But isn’t that kind of pathetic in itself? Who wants to be at their best when they’re living in their worst? Who honestly wants to be Plath or Hemingway or Wallace or any other sad motherfucker who creatively thrived in their depression and found little to no joy in success once they got it?
I dunno, man. I just don’t know.
I guess all I really do know, now—after years of rejection—is that you have to write for yourself. You have to write for your own joy, not the joy of others. And maybe—just maybe—if you keep doing that, someone will come along and want to publish it. But that SHOULD NOT be the goal because not everything you’re going to write is going to be published. Sad but true.
We are often at our best when no one is looking. And with that in mind, we must destroy the modern day mentality of, “Look at me! Look what I did! Look what I’m going to do! Look how special I am!”
The irony of that last sentence is not lost on me—I am well aware I am posting this online and it will go out to followers when I press PUBLISH. But a change in mentality does not equal a leave of absence. It’s not about being invisible. It’s not even about being humble. It’s about being confident without needing validation. It’s about giving love without needing it gifted back.
A submission is a gift—you are giving an editor a token of love and inspiration. If they accept it, that’s lovely. If not, think of that rejection email as a thank you card. Appreciate it, throw it out and move on.