Saturday, April 20, 2013

Let's Talk Rejection

So, let's talk rejection. I just came across a tweet about Anne of Green Gables being rejected and then shelved for two years before L. M. Montgomery resubmitted and subsequently sold 50 million. This was one of my favorite books as a kid, but I have to admit that I don't know too much about how it was published, so I can only assume that this is true. I also don't know if Montgomery changed and revised the book during those two years. But what struck me was the faith she must have had in her creation to go out there again and bare her soul to the world.
Because that's what it feels like - complete nakedness in front of hostile eyes.

I have to admit that I've had a pretty good week. It would be inappropriate to go into details - and I don't like to tempt fate either - but I've received a lot of positive reinforcement and interest this week. I don't get my hopes up about anything until it's real, but it feels good to think that maybe, just maybe things are moving in the right direction.

And then I received a rejection on something I didn't expect.

There's no point in talking about the what or the who. Suffice it to say that it was a tersely worded two point criticism, one point valid because it was the writer's opinion, and one point so out of left field to me that I wanted to immediately refute it.

Of course, that would be the worst thing to do!

The thing is, it involved something in which I have a great deal of knowledge and am able to make connections within that seem completely obvious to me. I never stopped to think that maybe someone without the same background might only see these as oblique and random, rather than considered and logical.

And at the end of the day, that's my problem, not theirs. It's my job to be an effective communicator. And so, despite all the positive news I received this week, I was thrown into the depths of self-doubt.

Now, I'm no stranger to rejection. I was a working actress before I was married and believe me, writers have it easy! We get to sit at our desks and send out our query letters, our partials and fulls, and when the rejections come - and they do - we can read them when we feel ready. They are faceless and voiceless and we can skim them quickly and then delete or file them away.

But imagine standing alone on a stage after belting your little heart out and feeling the minutes tick by as you watch them argue and deliberate about you before finally saying thank you and then turning away. Find me at a conference some day and I'll tell you about how I came this close to getting the role of Eponine in the original Toronto production. Watching people actually in the process of considering you and then being argued out of it by a colleague is one of the most humiliating things that I have ever experienced.
So, fellow writers, you don't know jack about rejection.

And that's what I reminded myself. I've had a really great week and I'm allowed to feel happy about it. And maybe a little hopeful too. I can file that email, and move on.

I was at book club last night and we were discussing a book that I absolutely hated. I mean, loathed and detested. And yet all of the rest of the group at least liked it, and several loved it. Art is subjective. It has to be. My art will not always be your art and your art might leave me cold, but we all have a right to continue trying to make it.


Post a Comment