Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rejection is like public speaking…sort of

Bear with me here- there’s a connection between these two topics-or rather my reaction to them.

My oh so glamorous day job used to involve outreach to current and future students (I’m a college counselor). Budget cuts ended that, but when I first started it was extremely stressful. You’re thrown up in front of a few hundred parents and students talking about financial aid. The students are tuned out and the parents are panicked and /or hostile. Like probably the vast majority of you out there- I’d get stressed before a workshop. Public speaking is on many folks’ short list of things that cause terror.

Then one day I had an epiphany- I was more stressed because OTHERS thought I should be stressed. My perception of what I was doing was negatively modified by the reactions of others. Once this idea popped up, I was no longer afraid or stressed by speaking. I realized I was fine with it. In fact (looks around furtively) I even liked it!

Today I had another epiphany. My reaction to rejections is massively influenced by how people around me react or how I THINK they’ll react. It doesn’t help that most non-writers usually really don’t understand the process. Some of my non-writer friends totally get how psychotic this industry is. Others think you write a book in a few weeks then get rich (and can’t really figure out why I haven’t done either ;)). So when I tell them that I got rejected, they look at me (at least in my mind) like a huge loser. Even other writers can cause this internal reaction. But today I asked myself how did I really feel (I got a form rejection from an agent I was interested in). My gut fell about two feet when I saw the email, then another foot when I read the email. Then...I was fine.

It sucks, don’t get me wrong. This was an agent I was very interested in- but let’s face it none of the agents on my list are ones I don’t think I could work with or they wouldn’t be on my list. I still have more agents. I still have more books. I am already planning ANOTHER book to add to the collection. I am a writer- rejection sucks, but if I’m honest to myself- and NOT thinking about what others will say, do, or think about it- I’m fine.

Seriously, don’t even need chocolate to recover fine. It’s part of the business, and if I want to play with the big kids I need to deal with it. So what about you? Are your reactions to events around you really YOURS or someone elses?


  1. I love this post! I received a bunch of rejections, and just shrugged and moved on since it's part of the process. But a couple of writer friends would get so sympathetic and say things like..."It hurts when someone says your baby is ugly."

    My baby? I have two babies. This was my book, not my baby. Someone calls my baby ugly and we're stepping outside. Not everyone is going to like my books. Rejection is part of the process, and just means you're trying. Again, this is a great post! :)

  2. Well... I have plenty of rejections, Marie. But none that counted (ha!) because when I sold, it sort of aced out those rejections.

    And as a teacher, I love public speaking. Not intimidated at all, usually. Am I an anomaly?
    I even spoke at Comic-con - and that's probably the scariest place to stand up!

    Cheers -and happy Tuesday.

  3. Marie,
    You're right about all of us being "slaves" to what we think other people think about us. I did a lot of "public speaking" before large crowds and elected officials for 37 years. I learned that it's always easier when you know your topic cold.
    I also have learned that any criticism, including rejections, have something to teach you. Writers shouldn't waste their time on hurt feelings or self-doubt. They should slough off rejections, as Rebecca and Linda said, but they should always take the time to look for a kernel of truth in the criticism. There is always -- well, almost always -- something you can learn.

    March 29, 2011 9:40 AM

  4. Great blog Marie!!! :)

    I've always worked in sales in my day job and you learn to look at "no" as one step closer to a "yes".

    And at least you know and can move on to the next...

    You've got a great attitude and rejection does suck, but it defintiely doesn't define you...


    Lisa :)

  5. Marie - I have a book full of rejections, but realize it was mostly my fault - not doing my homework ahead of time - sending my story to wrong publishing houses, which accounted for most all of the turndowns. Won't go into detail here, but since signing on with RWASD, the information I've learned has been invaluable. Someday hopefully, it will all gel for yours' truly, Joy (Taylor Jaeger)

  6. Thanks all! And yeah Linda you and I are probably the odd ducks out when it comes to public speaking ;).
    Great comments!

  7. Great perspective, Marie! I decided years ago not to tell anyone about my rejections - I didn't need the comments that came my way from my friends, lol! I totally understand. And I, too like public speaking - I just need to do it more frequently to get over blushing bright red while I speak, lol!

  8. Thanks Christine- yeah I'm think about not mentioning my submissions OR rejections to folks- easier all around ;).
    I get red too- but I'm not embarrassed!

  9. This so so so so so true.....I don't even notice rejections these days yet if I mention it then I get reactions that convince me to be upset. I have such a thick skin about it that sometimes I can even be insensitive about it with others. I never tell folk anymore about rejections or that i am submitting antithing. In fact I even lie and say "Nah i wrote it for fun and not sending it off." If we can't handle it now just imagine how we would react if we were published and got that public rejection, the review that slams us.

    Oh and Rebecca, my work is my baby, its my teen baby boys that I want rejecting ....or is the ejecting!!! *grin*

  10. Great post, Marie! I had this list of agents organized (because I'm neurotic) by preference. I queried ten. As soon as one would reject, I'd give myself about an hour to pout over it and then query the next one on the list. (And I'm still petrified speaking or reading in public.)

  11. Thanks for the comments David and Suzanne! David-LOL!!! Caught ya ;) But I won't say nothing- although the website is a giveaway.

    Suzanne- I actually have something similar to your list- it makes me feel more settled to have a nice little row to work down ;)