I recently entered a writing competition in which I thought I might have a fair chance of at least getting a small recognition. I didn’t actually think I would win the whole enchilada, but I hoped that perhaps I could get an honorable mention, or squeak into a top 10 list.
Alas, it was not to be. I didn’t win. I didn’t place. I didn’t even show up on the radar.
My carefully chosen words and heart-felt story were rejected.
It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else. ~ Erma Bombeck
I don’t like rejection. Never have, never will.
One rejection that is still on my top 10 list of painful moments was when I published my second book and threw a book launch and signing party that was meagerly attended by a couple handfuls of people. I had worked on the book for a year, researching, writing, promoting and finally getting it published, only to be met by a public that seemed to say, “Meh.”
At the time it felt totally directed at me personally. However after I got over the initial sting I realized that I was not the only writer who has ever been through that sort of disappointment. The rule is that if you put your work out there for all to see, you need to be prepared for the response, and its not always going to be glowing.
To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. ~ Elbert Hubbard
I admit that experience dampened my desire to put myself out there again. I mean, really, who likes to feel hurt, embarrassed and rejected? It’s so much easier to simply not step into the ring so you can avoid getting knocked out again, right?
The problem with doing that, however, is that it would keep me static. I would be in my safe bubble but going nowhere.
I don’t know if there is a right or wrong way to deal with rejection. Most experts say to get back in the saddle again after we’ve been thrown off, bruised egos and all.
If your ship hasn’t come in – swim out to it. ~ MaryEngelbreit
I am reminded of an interview I once did with Olympic Gold Medal cyclist Kristin Armstrong about winning. She would know all about winning, and losing too. She’s had some very public losses, but she kept getting back on her bike, eventually winning two Olympic gold medals, in addition to a gazillion other races. A couple things she told me really stuck in my mind:
“You can’t win unless you lose.”
“You don’t get better by always winning. The people who get better are the ones who get second or third or fourth, because you learn that you aren’t doing everything perfect.” (to read the full article go here)
So, back to the writing competition. I suppose after having my work rejected it would be natural to feel like a failure or a loser. But, in fact, I didn’t and I don’t. On the contrary, I was proud of myself for actually writing a piece for the contest, entering it and making the deadline. I remember hitting the ‘submit’ button at about 3:30 in the morning the day it was due. It would have been easier to complain about how tired I was and just go to bed. But then, the next morning, I really would have felt like a loser for not even trying.
And that’s what I need to keep in mind the next time I get rejected.