I’d intended to start this post with a bold statement about how I love rejections, because they make me stronger. That’s true, but it’s not exactly what I want to say.
Every writer faces rejection. I must sound like I’m on a tape loop when I say that there’s no one thing ever written that’s universally loved or universally despised. Every book has its market, every trope has its fans, every formula has its detractors as well as its admirers. One difficult part of being a writer is learning to balance those rejections and negative comments with what we can take from them.
I don’t mind so very much when my work gets slammed, as long as there’s at least a little constructive criticism accompanying the scathing laughter. Even mindlessly bad criticism springs from a kernel of truth. When a rejection or harsh comment stings, it’s usually because I’m not willing (or not ready) to accept that beneath it, someone’s pointing out what I already knew was wrong. I just didn’t want to admit it.
To me, the least helpful types of rejections are the ones that say “it’s not what we’re looking for” and that’s it, because wow, it’s like saying “purple” or “cranium” in response. It’s a fact of submission world, however, that nobody owes us an explanation. We get to say hey, try this out! and they get to say no (no thanks if they’re polite). It’s frustrating, but it’s a fact of life.
My mom, who is a very wise lady, taught me one thing very well as a fledgling little Scorpio. She told me that the only lessons that are worthless are the ones we refuse to learn from. We don’t have to embrace the whole thing, but we need to be able to discern what nuggets in that lesson are valuable and take them to heart.
I’m glad to say that I do my best to learn from every rejection as much if not more than from every acceptance. They really do make me better at my craft. They might not make me stronger, but they make my work stronger and better. There’s nothing wrong with that.