September 28, 2013

How to get over rejection

Getting rejected by an editor feels like getting your heart pulled out through your butt with a plumber's snake. It fucking hurts. Still, you know that having your pitch rejected is just the name of the game and has nothing to do with who you are as a writer and a person. 

But it is because you are a writer and a person that you can't help but feel all the feels. That's the worst, the feelings. They're antidotes to productivity. Nothing keeps you from being awesome better than that ego-crushing humiliation and ensuing sadness that comes from rejection. If you take it personally, and how could you not, it’s debilitating. 

But you have to get over it. 

First, you need to stop brooding. Ditch the despondency because it’s a useless emotion. Try happiness. Try optimism. Try anger even because angry people get shit done.

Then you write. Write like you don't care. Write like you were never broken. Write like you are BeyoncĂ© because no one has ever said no to Queen Bey. 

By this point, you've probably convinced yourself that you can't write, convinced that you’re a bad writer. You’re wrong. You know the truth about why you were rejected, and the truth is that it’s not about you but about them. Editors have their reasons: a) the storys been done before, b) it’s not the right fit right now, or c) there’s just no money. Its one of them or all of them. Believe it. 

Believe that its not over. That pitch you artfully crafted is perfect somewhere. You just don't know where yet. Go and find it. Tweak it, test it. Take it places it's never been before. Every pitch fails until one doesn’t.

Remember when Louisa May Alcott's manuscript for Little Women was rejected? Yeah, there was an idiot out there who read the part where Jo sold her hair so Marmee could visit Papa during the war, and then felt nothing.

Remember when Sylvia Plath received a rejection letter for The Bell Jar that actually contained the words, “One never feels, for instance, the deep-rooted anguish that would drive this girl to suicide.” What the what? 

The fact is, rejection befalls even the most talented, so you just have to believe in the weird ways of the universe. Every failed idea, every perfect pitch gone wrong, is pushing you towards something better. If your idea eventually gets accepted elsewhere, then you better be thankful for all those editors who told you, “Thanks, but no thanks. Be grateful for them. They are taking you to where you're really going.

One day, very soon, rejections won't hurt so much anymore. You'll start to feel less and less the more and more you put yourself out there. Eventually, the only thing a rejection will summon is a raw fury of indifference accompanied by a powerful hair flip and a resounding, “Don’t even care.” 

If you still can't shake the sting of a rejection, and you make your living as a writer, take a look at your bank account, then pictures of nice things you want, then back again at your bank account. That should do it.