The Quest for Validation in a Sea of Rejection

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 and I seek 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 novel, 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.

It’s hard to keep writing into the void. One needs faith for something like that, faith of 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 easier.

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.

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 about being confident without needing public recognition and/or 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.


  • Jennifer Moorhead
    October 20, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Ah yes, welcome to Dante’s Hell. Dust it off today and write. Write, write, write. You’re too talented not to. Thanks for sharing!!

  • jenn
    October 22, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    the times you came to critique group and read for us, i was envious of your ability to weave words, lady. your writing IS most assuredly special. at least to me.

  • jansaenz
    October 22, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Aw, thank you Jenn. ❤️

  • Kate Landers
    October 24, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for every blog you write. They’re so personal and it IS such a gift to your readers to let us step inside your mind John Malkovich-style. I feel what you’re saying – of course you want validation because, unlike uploading pictures of your food or your vacation, when you write, you’re revealing a part of your soul. Of course rejection of YOU is going to hurt. But I think you’re right-on when you say, “You have to write for YOU.” We can’t control other people, so you have to just keep focusing on what makes you happy. Every thing you write is a gift, and if an editor or agent passes on it, then that is too bad for them. Have you seen LaLa Land? The song Emma Stone sings at the end in her last audition, made me tear up. Those lyrics are perfect. If you haven’t seen it, please do, even just that one part, and if you have seen it, watch it again and write those lyrics down and stick them over your desk. Here’s to the dreamers!!

  • jansaenz
    October 24, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    I’m so glad I met you Kate. I swear you’re like my personal cheerleader. ❤️

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