Sunday, 2 October 2011

The R word (no, not that one)

I wasn’t going to blog.  At least not for quite some time. Sometimes I do wonder about it, all these words endlessly, pointlessly spewing.  I decided to shut the fuck up.  But then – ho ho – I got a direct message:

Just out of interest, have you ever done a blog on the fear of rejection? Sep 30, 7:56 AM.

Have I?  No, I don’t think so, not directly.  I answered – but didn’t get a reply.  So I figured maybe I should. Write a post, that is. Cos I know a lot of people who seem to let the R word drag them down, stop them reaching for the stars.
I dunno. As a freelance journalist, rejection is so familiar, it could be my mother, sister and aunt all rolled into one.  You pitch ideas – they’re turned down. Sometimes you don’t even get an email saying ‘no thank you.’ As a book writer, you get it in shedloads too.  I have files upon files on my PC of unpublished books – proposals lovingly worked and reworked; some progressed into chapters over weeks, months.  Only to be rejected.  It’s par for the course.  You have to keep trying; you can’t always expect to get it right first time. Sometimes you look back and you think, ‘Yeah, that really was shit; what the bejesus was I thinking?’.  Sometimes you look back and think ‘Feck, that was fabulous; why didn’t it sell?’ 
Funny thing; the ones that really get me, time and again, are the ‘nice’ rejections, as my agent calls them.  I’ve had a bucket of those for Samael, my YA novel.  The ones that go on about how wonderful the writing is, how gripping the plot, how different and exciting…blah blah..except…there’s always an except.  And a rejection, however nice, is always a rejection. Except…hmm…not always.  ‘If you ever rework this, do let me have another look.’  And, yeah, sometimes you need to rework; to shift things slightly and then try again.
What do you learn from it?  Bottom line? Keep trying.  If it’s worthwhile, don’t give up.  You have to be honest with yourself. Maybe it isn’t right, maybe something needs to be changed, to shift. Or maybe the timing is wrong. Or maybe – hey - it’s just bad luck, Fate, the malign universe, whatever.  But you have to keep trying. I know a writer who won’t submit his work because he’s scared of being rejected.  Well, okay, his approach means he won’t be rejected but he sure as hell won’t be published either, will he?  It’s like the lottery – the odds may be high but if you’re not in it, you sure as hell can’t win it, can you?
But I suspect my shy DM friend isn’t thinking about work.  I imagine she’s thinking about relationships.  And, ah, that is slightly different.  But, come to think of it, not that different.  Fear of rejection is, bottom line, fear of losing face, right?  And, honestly, is it so very awful if you lose your face?  What is a face after all?  A construct, a mask we present to the world. Is it the *real* us?  No. 
People bang on a lot about relationships. About ‘the rules’ and so on. About having to ‘play the game’ - like a relationship is a game of chess. And, on some levels, yes it is…(who was it that said it was actually war – was it Ovid? And, of course, chess is civilised war) but you have to start playing in the first place.  If you don’t lay your pieces on the board, you ain’t going nowhere…except back to Spider Solitaire. 
So, to those who fear rejection, I would say…don’t.  Embrace the possibility. What’s the best that can happen?  The other person will say ‘Yes!’  What’s the worst that can happen?  The other person will say ‘No.’ And then you will either lick your wounds and move on, or wait and try again. 
I wrote this a few days ago but this morning I was thinking about it again and wondering if this post would be any way helpful to my shy querent. So I thought I’d ask my oracles for some clarification. iPod oracle said this: except, hmm, it's not on YouTube... and this...and, grrr, neither is Kathryn Williams, Up North.  
But this is:
"Does it really matter, 
As long as you're not afraid to feel?"  
And that's the bottom line, really. You have to feel. Or you're dead. 
But I still wasn't sure this was enough.  So I turned to the Beagle oracle and he wagged his tail like it would fly off and hurled himself at me and covered me in licks and snuggled up so tight there wasn’t an atom of space between us.  Hmm. “If you love someone, tell them so - in no uncertain terms.


Anonymous said...

I love losing my face. A most favourite way being to have it bitten off. :o)

Rob-bear said...

Well, the sides of your room may be covered, wall to wall, with rejection slips, but you haven't quit. Which is the important thing. Didn't Edison find a thousand things that didn't work before he perfected the light bulb?
Good for you to say what you said. And to keep going yourself.
Blessings and Bear hugs.

Exmoorjane said...

Marek: Yeah, I've kinda gotten used to it now too.. :)

Bear: You have no idea how close I close I come...but bless you.. xx

Expat mum said...

When I first started this writing lark, I got my first rejection via e-mail within an hour of it being sent. It was a custom rejection though, which made me at least take comfort in the fact that someone had bothered to read the full proposal. It can get demoralizing sometimes but publishers at the moment are only putting out what they know will definitely make them boat loads of money.
One thing to bear in mind (or steel yourself for) is the possibility of your work, once published, being not so well received by the public. That would be worse than private rejections by agents and publishers I think.

Isobel said...

As you say, if you don't try, you'll never find out. Demonstrate your stickability, all the time! It gets a mite easier to accept each time - whether it's publishing, relationships or whatever. Beside, if everything worked, you'd never have time to try something new, would you?

bump babbler said...

Thanks for this, really struck a chord! I have rejection 'letters' piling up and trying not to let it bother me... Like you say, at leaast I'm feeling something.

vegemitevix said...

I've linked a post about rejection as a blogger to this one, hope you don't mind. Love your encouragement in this post and wanted to add special encouragement specifically for bloggers. Vx

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jane. I used to feel worried about rejection when I first submitted DAR, but realised it was just par for the course, and if nothing else, it was experience.

Now I'll be trying again with my next book and I'll wait for the rejections to roll in. I think what I hate most is when one spends a long time over a submission getting is just right, following all the rules and going to great lengths to get the right spelling of the editor or whoever you need to submit to, then you hear nothing back. Yes, that really gets my back up!

CJ xx

Kim Bennett said...

Beagle Oracle Rocks. There is no other Oracle to hold a light to him. And I think you're right about rejection. And sometimes it's the other way round - I reject something because of the idea that I might lose face because the object of my desire (obv am talking about a chap) doesn't measure up in some way. Am having this currently (and working with it). Chap on dating website got in touch. He can't spell for yumcious toffee. This would normally have me running for the hills and rejecting him (I think this is something to do with thinking that the man of my dreams has to be able to spell to show off to my friends that he's intelligent - wtf?) but I decided not to (reject him out of hand, that is). To see where it goes. And you know what? He's funny and his second email acknowledged (without prompting) his bad spelling. No big deal. No fuss. Lesson learned (for this ten mins).

Tor said...

Needed to read this today. Been getting marginally pissed off recently with being constantly ignored by editors after pitching ideas (or even completed commissions!). But rejection is part of the process. However, I don't feel it's getting any easier.

Genevieve Graham-Sawchyn said...

I figure rejections are the karmic way of preparing you for the right acception. Who needs those nay-sayers? Hang in there, because the right one's waiting.

Ian Joe Davies said...

This all stems back to the 'why do I write?' question. Is it to release emotions; get it off your chest, or is it a search for acceptance? If it's the latter, then rejection will always hit harder to take. I write poetry pieces to release pent up frustrations and emotions. I've never really intended to publish them, even though my family keep nudging me to. Thoughts on a sleeve, rather than heart will always give writers somewhere to start.

Ian Joe Davies said...

NTS: it always pays to proof read BEFORE publishing!!!