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 I have files upon files on my PC of unpublished books – proposals lovingly worked and reworked; some progressed into chapters over weeks, months.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.