I’m a twentysomething writer who has received endless rejection emails from publishing companies that didn’t like my story. The silent rejection emails were just as terrible – the thought of them having read it and not cared enough to reply hurt just as badly, but that’s normal. Rejection is prone to come, even for the good writers (which is what I like to think of myself as).
It wasn’t really a story or novel, more like a collection of poems and short stories, but nonetheless it was something I, myself, created and enjoyed. All of the rejection emails made me feel like less of a person and more of a failure. So I gave up, for a while. I threw that story on the stacks of my many unfinished pieces of writing that I had written over the years. It stood there, collecting dust and all, for about a year. I stared at it every now and then with a cold stare. A piece of work that I wrote and once loved was left to rot beside my other miserable never-will-happen’s.
I wrote it with every ounce of my being, pouring out parts of my soul that I wasn’t afraid to hide, in hopes it would make me a “better writer.” It was all because of the rejection emails. I thought my life as a writer was now long gone because I couldn’t get a simple book published, and because I thought my writing was shit. As I stared at my half-dimmed laptop, I rewrote everything that I assumed needed “fixing.” I rewrote. I deleted. I rewrote again.
These rejections made me feel like I couldn’t create content good enough for anyone, most importantly myself. I write out of enjoyment solely for my own sanity, so instead of feeling accomplished, I felt ruined. I felt as though I was trapped inside of a well, with a light only peeking through on occasions. I felt like I was a bad writer. No one wants to feel that way, especially when you usually consider yourself a good one.
One day I’d have a marvelous idea, furiously making notes of the thoughts that had popped up in my head, and then the next thing you know, I’d reread everything and call it all trash. Until one day, when I’d had enough. When I knew I had to finish what I started. I honestly don’t know what it was, or why it came to me the way it did. That light was the one that saved me from what felt like never-ending misery and self-pity. No one should ever feel self-pity, especially if it’s from something you love doing. So I erased the negative thoughts as best as I could and I forged ahead and made that story my life.
I definitely feared failure and rejection (as I do always), but I didn’t let it take over my brain as I had done before. Sometimes you may feel so strongly about a piece of work that you created and just know it’s great and it actually happens to be great. You’ll know when you’ve created magic when you feel it in your gut. Sometimes you won’t. It happens. It wasn’t easy nor was it impossible, it just took a couple all-nighters and some kick-ass bravery. I knew I was brave enough to start it and I knew I had it in me enough to finish the process of publishing it. I just needed that little nudge.
Lo and behold, after all the rejection and criticism, I finally published my book. I’m currently writing my second one with my head held high, because I know what it feels like to be scared. Call me crazy, but the process is what excites me and pushes me to work harder and better, even if I do tend to get scared along the way.
Think of bravery as a very old friend of yours. It never truly leaves you. Get to know it, understand it, get creative with it. All it takes is that one little step. You may have to understand it day by day, but once you’ve come to terms with it, the process of understanding will resume and continue to surprise you and your emotions.
Bravery changes people in a good way. A way that should be taught for centuries to come so we can help others who become troublesome over the fact. Once you take ownership of the bravery you consume, the rest is easy. Everything after that should flow like a river. If it doesn’t, that’s cool too. Processes are meant to change and grow.
Whether you’re a writer, a musician, an artist, or even the CEO of a well-known company, fear and rejection can be in the cards for anyone. I have a quote by Elizabeth Cady Stanton hung up on my bathroom mirror that reads: “The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.” It’s there every day to remind me that I am better than the rejection emails, that I’m a great writer, that I should never give up.