On rejection

Having grown up an egregiously nerdy, loud-mouthed, bespectacled, overly-freckled, bright-orange-headed-ginger, rejection has been part of my life for a long time.

Seriously though, this is probably why it doesn’t bug me. I mean, no one LIKES being rejected, but any ill feelings I might have after getting the notice are gone about an hour later. Why? Because I’ve been on both sides of that letter.

Sometimes, no one gave your piece a second thought and your rejection is nothing more than a testament to how overworked and undermotivated many people working in arts admin are. (I once received a rejection slip with one word on it: “Nope.” Classy.) Other times, it got squeezed out by either better work or work that was more to the editors’ tastes. (I’ve had a few award judges over time tell me I missed the shortlist by a hair’s breadth.) Either way, there’s nothing you can do about it, so you might as well get working again.

Sadly, this same rejection acceptance super power I have extends to acceptances as well. The enjoyment of approbation lasts about an hour and then we’re back to this… the work.

So, long story short: don’t get into this biz for the glamour, kids. \

(You know what’s frankly worse than rejection? Silence. Don’t follow? You’ll find out.)

There’s a fairly wide gap between what I expected as a preposterous young man and the writing life as I’ve lived it. I’m old enough to see how disillusionment is the price for adulthood in every vocation, not just writing and the arts. Yet, one facet of my writing life still surprises me with its wicked gleam. Once, I believed as a writer my most important skill would be knowing how to lay words in a line that’s solid as a cut stone wall. Nope. Turns out the most important skill for me as a writer, the skill I can’t live without, and the one that took the longest to learn, is a skill for failure.

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